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Modus: Better understanding and assessing the role of air transport in an intermodal transport system

The Modus project was officially launched at the beginning of June in the presence of SESAR JU representatives and the seven members of the consortium. Bauhaus Luftfahrt e. V. (BHL), École nationale de l’aviation civile (ENAC), University of Westminster LBG (UoW), Fundacion Instituto De Investigacion Innaxis (INX), UIC, Skymantics Europe SL (SKY), and EUROCONTROL – The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (ECTL) are the partners of the Modus project that, with a duration of 30 months, starting from June 1st, 2020, is addressing the topic SESAR-ER4-10-2019 “ATM Role in Intermodal Transport”.

The main objective of the project is the analysis of the performance of the overall transport system by considering the entire door-to-door journey holistically and assessing the role of air transport within an integrated, intermodal approach. For this purpose, Modus identifies and assesses (future) drivers for passenger demand for and supply of mobility in terms of their impact on passenger mode choice. This enables the development of multiple scenarios of future mobility paths, taking into account aspects such as new regulatory contexts meeting new environmental standards, or new transport operators’ business models, covering a time horizon of 2030+.

The project is structured into seven work packages (WP):

  • WP1 Coordination and Management (led by BHL)
  • WP2 Data Acquisition and Management (led by INX)
  • WP3 Future Supply and Demand Scenarios (led by ENAC)
  • WP4 Passenger Mobility Modelling (led by UoW)
  • WP5 Identification of Gaps and Barriers (led by BHL)
  • WP6 Dissemination and Exploitation (led by UIC)
  • WP7 Ethics Requirements (led by BHL)

In terms of expected impact, this project will provide and integrate modelling approach towards the European transport system, including both air transport and rail, which enables a thorough assessment of the gaps and potential solutions required to meet European high-level objectives in this area. By this, the project will also provide tools and insights for decision-makers in moving towards the future vision of the European transport system, also strongly supported by the inclusion of an intermodal Industry Board as well as experts from relevant areas.

The consortium is led by BHL, whose solid expertise and experience in participating and leading European projects will facilitate synergies among the co-applicants and between them and other relevant stakeholders represented on the Advisory Board.

The Modus project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 – SESAR research and innovation programme on the topic SESAR-ER4-10-2019 “ATM Role in Intermodal Transport” under grant agreement No. 891166 with a 998,875 euros grant amount. More information will soon be available on Twitter @modus_project, LinkedIn, and via its website https://www.sesarju.eu/projects/modus.

The project was introduced in the SESAR e-news in June with asking specific questions on the project scope and goals (https://www.sesarju.eu/node/3634):

Flying, the multimodal way!

Planes, trains, and automobiles, not to mention micro-mobility options like bikes and scooters. Would-be travellers have never had so many mobility options to choose from for getting from A to B. But what combination of these offers the quickest, most affordable, reliable and greenest option for getting from door to door, especially for journeys that involve air travel? That’s the challenge that researchers in the recently launched Modus project have set themselves, as Annika Paul, Modus coordinator from Bauhaus Luftfahrt, explains in this interview.

What are rationale and main objectives of the Modus project?

The main objective of the project is to assess the role of air transport within an integrated and intermodal transport system, looking at the entire journey door to door. More specifically, we aim to identify and assess (future) drivers for passenger demand for and supply of mobility, and how these impact passengers’ modal choices. This enables the development of multiple scenarios of future mobility pathways, taking into account new regulatory frameworks and environmental standards, or new business models, and covering a time horizon of 2030 and beyond.

Why is it important to think about air transport in a multimodal/intermodal context?

Intermodality is a top priority in high-level European transport agendas, such as Flightpath 2050 with the stated goal of enabling 90 % of citizens to reach any place in Europe within four hours door to door by 2050, for journeys including an air segment. Air transport is therefore an important contributing mode to reaching this vision. The challenge is understanding the competition and complementarity between different transport modes, addressing capacity shortages in the respective modes, while also meeting passengers’ increasing demand for mobility choices that are smarter and greener.

Is COVID-19 impacting the rationale/planned work of the project?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the European and global mobility landscape in 2020; the Modus project represents an opportunity to analyse the relevance and impact of COVID-19 in the decision-making process of passengers and operators in Europe.

How could the model be used in solutions targeting passengers? What benefits do you hope your project will bring?

Modus aims to provide important insights into the passenger experience by significantly improving the knowledge of travellers’ preferences and expectations, and on how different factors influence the demand for air and rail transport. This includes the detailed analysis of passengers’ preferences with regard to a modal choice, going beyond the mere travel time and price parameters and taking into account aspects such as environmental considerations or comfort during the journey.

Our hope is that our research will result in a holistic modelling approach that covers the door-to-door travel and illustrates the impact on (air) transport capacity – in particular at airports – and passenger flows. For this purpose, the Modus consortium plans to make use of various data sources to model the interaction between different transport modes including, for example, Eurostat database, World Bank database, or national statistical databases providing transport statistics, drawing on the consortium’s experience in other EU-projects such as DATASET2050 or Domino.

The modelling approach builds on the already well-equipped (air) mobility model “Mercury”, developed by the University of Westminster and Innaxis over the past years, mostly focused on the gate-to-gate segment of passenger travel itineraries, providing both advanced and classical passenger and flight metrics. This will be extended within Modus to a much more comprehensive door-to-door context. It will also be complemented by RNEST, the research version of an ATM simulation tool used by EUROCONTROL, which allows the modelling of air traffic, including flight trajectories and ATM processes.

For further information, please contact Annika Paul (Annika.Paul[at]bauhaus-luftfahrt.net).

Modus project SESAR

Symbol photo.
July 24th, 2020