Intermodal transport

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Intermodal transport
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Intermodal transport (combined) - type of transport consisting in the carriage of cargo by means of transport of various modes of transport. This means that more than one transport branch is used for transporting cargo, while using only one loading unit, e.g. a container on the entire transport route.

Organization of transport

Combined transport in practice most often involves combining car transport with rail transport. Car carriers deliver cargo for rail transport. Rail is transported by rail to the destination station. Containers, swap bodies or car semi-trailers are used for transporting loads. It is best to use containers and car bodies to prevent traditional, expensive reloading methods. It also allows the use of various ways of loading and unloading rail freight. The use of car semi-trailers largely facilitates the implementation of transport in the "home-house" system, consisting in the carriage of cargo from the place of shipment to the destination. In turn, specialized wagons called platforms are used to transport rail loads. They are adapted to transport all types of containers. Intermodal transport is also carried out using single parcels and conventional freight trains.

Intermodality as a modern challenge

The inter-branch transports occupy an important place in the development of new transport technologies. Two groups can be distinguished, in which means of transport occur as:

  • vehicles of a particular mode of transport transported at a particular stage of the transport cycle on a vehicle of other modes of transport,
  • vehicles of various modes of transport in a combined transport cycle.

Main contemporary reasons for the development of intermodal transport:

  • the need to increase efficiency in transport,
  • globalization and the related increase in demand for transport by sea, especially containers,
  • a several-fold increase in the turnover of container sea returns.
  • The growing demand for cargo transport has long been one of the main reasons for the development of cargo units (packages, pallets, containers). This enabled the mechanization of reloading work, and thus reduced their labor consumption and time-consuming.

Intermodal transport, multimodal, combined - differences

For many years, the above-mentioned terms were used interchangeably, because they did not have a generally recognized definition. Finally, the European Economic Commission of the United Nations, the European Conference of Ministers of Tourism and the European Commission in the document "Terminology on Combined Transport" defined the following concepts as follows:

  • Intermodal transport - carriage of cargo in a cargo or full truck loadway using two or more branches of transport, without reloading of goods,
  • Multimodal transport - carriage of cargoes through two or more branches of transport,
  • Combined transport - intermodal transport, in which the main part of the journey in Europe is carried out by rail, inland waterway or sea transport, and the sections of coach or feed, as short as possible, by road transport.

The ambiguity of the terms given above results in the fact that in practice usually additional terms are used to explain the technology, e.g. container intermodal transport or rail-road combined transport.

Advantages and disadvantages of intermodal transport

The advantages of intermodal transport

  • Reduction of transport costs
  • Ensure fast and timely delivery of cargo, especially in international transport
  • Reducing the risk of damage to the goods
  • Increasing the possibility of one-off transport of a larger batch of cargo
  • Increasing the availability and quality of transport services
  • The increase in the number of possible modes of transport
  • The possibility of using different ways of loading and unloading.

Disadvantages of intermodal transport

  • Necessity to use specialized handling devices (e.g. cranes, cranes, self-propelled machines), which give the possibility of transporting multi-ton cargo units outside the reach of stationary equipment
  • Necessity of equipping railway terminals with appropriate reloading devices.