Intermodal transport


Intermodal transport is the transfer of merchandise through different means of transport in the same load unit.

The intermodal transport system is made up of two or more modes of transport.

It also includes the services associated with the intermodal phase, that is, the change from one means of transport to another. Since the transport is carried out in the same unit of load, generally the container, it is not necessary to manipulate the load in each change of mode.

In other words, and to understand it better, let's imagine a container leaving China by ship, picked up in Europe by a truck, and transported east by train. The cargo has been the same and has not been manipulated, even having been transported by boat, truck and train.

Characteristics of intermodal transport

Some of the characteristics of the intermodal transport system are the following:

  • Infrastructure: This system needs an adequate infrastructure for its operation. This refers to the physical aspect and telecommunications technology.
    • Physics: It includes all the constructions necessary for the circulation of means of transport. For example, roads, railways, pipelines, seaways, and airways.
    • Telecommunications and ICTs: This includes all necessary infrastructure for the circulation of information.
  • Transport process: The companies that provide the service are in charge of carrying out the entire transfer process. This includes the planning, implementation and mobilization of cargo throughout the travel process.
  • Efficiency: Greater efficiency in cargo handling.
  • Specialization: The services associated with this type of transport are specialized.

Due to these characteristics, intermodal transport is of vital importance in the door-to-door delivery service. Likewise, it applies for the shipment of merchandise and urgent parcels for the client.

Advantages of the intermodal transport system

The benefits of this type of transport at the macro level are:

  • Integration of the national and international territory.
  • Port decongestion.
  • Streamlining or reducing customs controls.
  • Improves competitiveness levels.

For its part, it also presents benefits at the micro level:

  • Less bureaucratic processes for the merchant. Therefore, greater ease in transport management.
  • Better control of the merchandise transfer process (follow-up).
  • Knowledge in advance of transit times. In addition, it allows their reduction.
  • Greater market penetration.
  • Lower cost of insurance premiums due to the reduction of theft and loss.
  • Reduction of transportation costs.
  • Shortening of loading and unloading time.
  • The combination of means of transport is more efficient. In general, the goods travel the same route but with different service providers.

Disadvantages of the intermodal transport system

Some of the disadvantages of this transportation system are:

  • The use of containers is essential to carry out the transfer process.
  • The initial cost of the infrastructure is high.
  • The existence of railways, rivers, etc., close to ports and main access points is required.

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