Roy van den Berg

Intermodal transport specialist

Intermodal Transport

The usage of different modes for the transport of a container (e.g. road and inland waterways or road and rail) is called intermodal transport. The usage of intermodal transport is of interest to multiple parties as it can result in, for example, reduced transport costs, increased reliability and a reduction of emissions.

The landside of maritime container transport has become more and more important. In many circumstances land transport covers the largest part of the total container transport costs. Due to economies of scale intermodal transport is becoming an increasingly popular solution for inland container transport on the long distance as well as on the short distance. Especially shippers and freight forwarders are interested in the reduced transport costs it can bring. In addition to that, intermodal transport emits, in general, less carbon dioxide than road only transport. Although this might not be top priority for many decision makers, it will become in the near future as we need to substantially reduce our emissions to stop climate change.

For many years, shipping lines have been struggling with how to deal with intermodal hinterland transport. Not many have developed true intermodal hinterland services and therefore it remains an area in which they can still differentiate themselves from other shipping lines. In addition, it is an area in which they can earn additional income and gain market share from freight forwarders. Next to shipping lines, deep sea terminals are also developing intermodal proposition as they are perfectly situated to bundle containers to and from inland destinations.

Port authorities are not directly involved in intermodal transport. However, it does heavily impact the competitive position of the port because it influences the accessibility of the port and the port's reach in the hinterland. Therefore, many port authorities want to influence the share of intermodal hinterland transport for example through policies or by becoming active in the hinterland.