Propose new...

Implementation of logistic service centres

Urban freight logistics is a large yet often overlooked aspect of a city’s sustainable urban mobility. Urban areas attract a large number of flows of goods and materials from far beyond the city’s borders. Over the past two decades, freight deliveries to cities have tended towards more frequent, smaller deliveries that travel over longer distances, resulting in reduced load factors and an increase in the number of large delivery vehicles in urban areas. The inefficiencies of this fragmented approach contribute significantly to a city’s greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and noise pollution.

To address these environmental challenges, several cities have successfully implemented city logistics service centres (LSCs). An LSC is a logistics facility located near a city, the city centre or a specific site, from which deliveries are made within that area. There are different types of LSCs:

  • special project LSC
  • LSC on a single site with one landlord
  • LSC serving a town/city.

With the right physical and economic configuration, LSCs make the first and last mile for deliveries within a dense urban area more efficient and less intrusive environmentally and socially.

Regardless of the type of LSC, the most successful have been initiated by public authorities that brought stakeholders together and financed the start-up phase. The role of public administration bodies is particularly important in the initial stage as they can promote cooperation among local freight actors (freight forwarders, wholesalers, production companies, retailers, etc.) and can also combine the creation of LSCs with other measures relating to emissions reduction and congestion management, thus increasing the overall effectiveness of the adopted actions.

Before creating an LSC, public authorities should identify the reasons for implementing it and who could run it, and conduct a pilot study or a simulation.

There are several key aspects to consider:

  • Location of the LSC. This will depend on the purpose the facility is meant to fulfil.
  • Political commitment and support. As there are currently very few LSCs in operation, regional and EU-wide political support is vital to encourage long-distance freight operators to use these services.
  • Technology and additional services. These can enhance the scheme’s efficiency and help to increase customers’ confidence and interest in the LSCs by using tracking systems, ticketing, boxing, tagging, waste management services, and providing overflow storage space for peak or seasonal needs. The combination of extra services and technology must ensure that LSCs are at least as good as, if not better, than traditional delivery methods in terms of ensuring timely deliveries.

Full content



Case Studies