This website is not updated any longer, but maintained for documentation purposes of the completed project.

COSMOS Final Conference Invitation

The results of the COSMOS project were presented and discussed during the final conference in Wien on 12 June 2014. The final conference convened high-level representatives and stakeholders of the intermodal industry in South East Europe, who presented and discussed recent achievements and future prospects of intermodal transport in the countries concerned.

The conference documentation is available here.

COSMOS stands for Cooperative Solutions for Managing Optimized Services and is the reply to the market needs for improved cooperative intermodal freight services in South-East Europe.

The CREAM project and DIOMIS studies on intermodal rail freight transport in South East Europe (SEE) have shown a large market potential for seamless intermodal transport chains on dedicated pan European transport corridors or sections thereof. The two recent projects showed also a large discrepancy between the requirements of shippers and logistics service providers and the usual product railways and intermodal operators could offer to them in SE-Europe.

Against that background the present Common Learning Action COSMOS addresses these issues and sets the following objectives (numbered according to subsequent work packages):

  1. Designing and implementing “good practices” to become more efficient in supplying (intermodal) railway services, completed by a “good practice manual”.
  2. Training on identified “good practices” to improve skills in view of their successful implementation performed by a series of training courses.
  3. Periodical exchange of information for developing a mechanism and procedure for developing coordinated international intermodal services.
  4. Designing and implementing a knowledge platform for better accessibility and transparency of railway / intermodal services among each other and towards (potential) customers and shippers.
  5. Promoting and disseminating intermodal transport towards targeted stakeholders.

These measures will lead to improved cooperation for structurally optimizing working methods and service offer in rail freight transport in SEE countries that will prepare for a further modal shift due to the involvement of market parties and stakeholders.
The project is carried out by a consortium of 12 undertakings, representing a mix of experienced intermodal operators, railway undertakings, terminal operators, logistics service providers, and consultancies.
The works which are financially supported in the framework of a Marco Polo Common Learning Action started on September 1, 2012, and shall be completed within 24 months according to the schedule.


The particular challenges in this geographic area are:

  • Lack of knowledge on intermodal transport at all, in particular: technologies, economies and processes and the benefit it could bring to co-modal supply chains;
  • Different interpretation of EU regulations and sector guidelines in comparison to pre European situation at operative level;
  • Entrepreneurship focusing on road-only but not in rail or intermodal transport;
  • Lack of consistent public and private strategies / policies in favor of intermodal transport;
  • Concentration on transit trains initiated by Western European companies and lack on own, region-specific services, bad experience;
  • Lack of publication of “good practices” to motivate “followers” and stakeholders changing their mind and own initiatives.

Next to infrastructural and administrative issues which are about to be solved by large scale infrastructure investments (TEN-T) or the (legal) implementation of the common European Railway Area (ERA) in a rather long term, also short to medium term actions are required in order to keep the momentum gained from previous projects in SE-Europe with respect to:

  • Understanding cultural and working attitudes of the (railway) staff involved in international co-ordination of freight services;
  • Long breath for implementing the identified innovations, e.g. gateway operation concept linking freight villages, rail ports and intermodal terminals; quality manuals; train monitoring and customer information systems; …;
  • Developing business strategies to respond to the global trends in logistics (global procurement, outsourcing, European integration, 24 hour economy, CO2 footprint orientation, flexibility/volatility of flows…), their impact in SE-Europe and effective rail services;
  • Preparing the grounds and raising awareness of intermodal services from, to and within SEE Countries at all;
  • Dissemination and exploitation of success stories and “good practices” for intermodal rail freight services from, to and within SEE Countries.