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The "territorial" area

This area of research examines how freight transport and logistics affect geographical areas and vice-versa.

Freight transport occupies territories, i.e. the areas appropriated by the various stakeholders involved. As a service that meets the demands of firms, it depends on the location of the principal markets, of production and/or consumption which produce and receive freight flows. The geography of flows is thus partly determined by the unequal size of the locations that make up territories and the links between these locations, at different scales. On the other hand, as a system that develops its own ways of operating, freight transport also plays a part in organizing and transforming territories. In particular, it plays a key role in the globalization and metropolitization of production and distribution systems, mainly through sea and air transport. At the international scale, freight transport plays a role in organizing the world’s metropolitan areas. At metropolitan level, logistics functions are being pushed outwards into peripheral areas due to a combination of pressure on land, political pressure and the efficiency of road transport, with the result that metropolitan boundaries are becoming increasingly unclear, due to a process which is similar to the sprawl which affects housing and personal mobility. This area of research sheds light on the way transport influences the way territories are structured and function. Research will focus in particular on how nodes – sea ports, airports, inland ports, rail terminals and logistics hubs- contribute to the functioning and competitiveness of territories, particularly metropolitan regions. This research area also attempts to understand how these ways in which territories function and are structured in their turn influence the geography of flows.