In Spain’s hectic capital city Madrid, transport providers are racing to keep up with tightening emissions and diesel restrictions. For transport company Transgesa, an LNG-powered Scania G 340 provides a glimpse of the future possibilities for urban distribution.
With more than 4.4 million vehicles on the road, and traffic jams that at times can feel endless, the transport infrastructure of the Madrid region is sprawling but inadequate. There is also severe air pollution, with particulate matter and nitrogen oxide pollutants that regularly exceed the recommended levels many times over. And when you also consider that the regional authorities are planning to phase out diesel transport by 2025, the challenges for urban distributors are immense.
Scania LNG truck allowed in restricted areas
In this environment, the haulage company Transgesa carries out daily deliveries throughout the region, including the city centre. The company operates a Scania liquefied natural gas (LNG) truck, which is permitted access to areas that are often out of bounds for conventional trucks.
“We certainly have major challenges in delivering to big cities, and especially to city centres due to increasing restrictions,” says Erwin Alberts, Transgesa’s operations director. “It’s getting more and more complex each year, as we face increasing requirements for access based on type of vehicle and type of fuel. This definitely impacts upon our operations.”
Urban distribution in busy, narrow streets
Transgesa, with a fleet of both long-haulage and distribution trucks, is a Madrid franchisee in the national Palibex network, which pools local transport companies under a common brand for coordinated deliveries throughout the Iberian peninsula. Transgesa also operates transport services under its own brand.
Driver Carlos ‘Chilaba’ Fernández’s day usually starts at the Palibex warehouse in southern Madrid, where he loads the day’s deliveries bound for the city centre.
“Mornings are for pick-up and delivery, and afternoons are for collections,” he says. “You really need to avoid the peak hours in the morning and the midday hustle and bustle to not get stuck in traffic. The narrow streets are challenging and it’s difficult to enter in some places.
“But that’s not worst; it’s the unloading through pavement cellar-access hatch doors. And Madrid is full of bikes, skateboards and, of course, motorbikes, which are the worst as they zig-zag dangerously through traffic.”
Madrid diesel ban means more alternative fuel vehicles
Traffic restrictions, accidents and traffic jams are an everyday headache for Transgesa’s traffic planners. “They require a fair bit of imagination and intelligence on the part of our planning and traffic departments since for some areas we must comply with the rules and restrictions,” explains Alberts. “From an operational point of view, it certainly gives us difficulties.”
Transgesa believes that the industry will undergo fundamental changes in the coming years before Madrid’s diesel ban comes into force. “These will be very exciting years because all our competitors and ourselves will have to adapt to new and more restrictive legislation. We will have to make investments in other types of vehicles and also train our teams to comply with the coming restrictions.”
Alberts is also convinced the coming ban will prompt new business models, especially with regard to last-mile deliveries, which are expected to increase as e-commerce continues to grow. “There will be greater cooperation between the different transporters to reduce the number of vehicles that will be driving in the city centre.”
Scania helps Transgesa meet customer demands
Although customers have previously been reluctant to absorb the added cost of greener transport, attitudes are changing, says Alberts. “Nowadays, we increasingly meet customers that require their transport providers to have a demonstrable investment in green vehicles. Larger firms consider this as an added value.”
In this transition to a new urban distribution model, Scania is a valued partner for Transgesa. “Scania’s technology provides us with certain advantages in serving our customers. As we face the need for higher investment, increased efficiency and reliability will be even more important.”