Intermodal Transportation and Containerization. 3

Introduction. 3

Intermodalism.. 3

Intermodal transport network. 4

Intermodal containerization. 5

Conclusion. 6

Intermodal Transportation and Containerization


History of the modes of transportation, including competition among different modes of transport, has produced transport systems that are integrated and segmented. Intermodal transport and containerization relate to transport, as well as containerization in which the mode of conveyance occurs in different ways (Crainic, 2007). The paper shall discuss the different aspect of intermodal containerization and transportation.


Intermodal transportation refers to the movement of freight as well as passengers from one transportation mode to another. Intermodal transportation takes place in terminus that is specially designed for the purpose of transportation. In North America, intermodal transportation is a term used to refer to transport through containerised railway transport.

The different form of transport involved in intermodal transportation especially the carrier that is used for transporting them tries to exploit some advantages that are associated with them. The advantages that are exploited by the carriers within different modes of transportation are advantages in terms of service, cost, reliability, as well as safety. As a way of retaining business, carriers try and increase their sources of revenue by ensuring maximization of line-haul that is under their control. Different modes of transport in intermodal transportation see varying modes like competitor and view them with mistrust and suspicion.

 The public policy in the United States of America has contributed to the lack of cohesion among the different modes of transport since the policy barred companies from owning companies. It had taken place before deregulation took place. In Europe, there is the lack of cohesion among different modes because different modes of transport have been placed under control of the state monopoly.

Modalism in transport and containerization in the world have been favoured due to the existing difficulties in the ferrying of products from a single mode to differing ones. In the past, ferrying products from varying mode to varying one was difficult, and many costs were included, as well as prevent many delays. The delays took place because the load units had to be changed, and the common practise involved in bulk transportation.

Over the years, major effects have been carried out with respect to intermodal transportation and containerization dating back to 1960s. The efforts aimed at integrating a separate system of transport through intermodal and the process took place in different stages. Most of the activities carried out aimed at establishing maritime system that would connect in a better way with the inland system.

Intermodal transport network

Transmodal transport network refers to a system of transportation that is logistically connected using two or more modes of transport. Different models have common characteristics of holding permitting people or freight to be transferred between various modes between the destination they are headed to and the origin. The same case applies when dealing with cargos, and they do not require being handled. It only requires a load unit; for example a container or pallet.

In a trip, it involves at least two modes of transport from the origin to the destination where intermodal transport chain is required, which allows integration of several systems involved in transport. Intermodalism plays an important role in enhancing the transport chain economic performance. It occurs through the use of the chain in the productive way. As such, the line-haul economies associated with the rail may be exploited during long distances with efficiencies of truck which provide the services of pick up, as well as the deliveries. In intermodal transportation, the existing trip is observed as complete rather than small steps marked by unitary operations possessing separate sets of rates and documentation.

Several concepts are used in intermodal transportation including; the quantity and nature of the cargo being transported. Intermodal transportation is most suitable for the transportation of finished goods, as well as intermediate goods in loads units not exceeding 25 tons (Abernethy, 2009). Another concept factored in is aspect of transportation practised. In intermodal transportation, modes are organised in sequences known as intermodal transport chain. There are dominant modes that support intermodal; for instance trucking, rail, maritime, and barges. Other concepts factored in intermodal transportation include the distance required between the origin and destination, the cost involved in transportation, as well as the condition of cargo involved. 

Intermodal containerization

It is without doubt that the push of intermodal transportation depends on the container since the handling required between different modes of transport is easy. Transport intermodal would have been very difficult and at the same time expensive, if it were to be done in the absence of containers. Containerization refers to the general increase in the use of containers that support freight transportation (International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association. 2005). In intermodal containerization, intermodal containers are increasingly being used because it substitutes cargo for other forms of conveyances. Containerization is used to support freight distribution, and it can diffuse properly among the large number of transport systems growing and their ability to handle containers.

Intermodal containerisation has played a great role in diffusion and adoption of intermodal transportation that has contributed to profound mutation taking place in the transport sector. Containerization has greatly reduced handling time required, packing costs, as well as labour costs (Mahoney, 2005). In addition to that, intermodal containerization has given an opportunity for considerable improvements that have made transportation efficient. Intermodal containerization allows the mechanised handling of different cargoes, considering that the cargoes are of different sizes and shapes, as well as diverse dimensions. As a result, goods that took days to be loaded in trucks or unloaded from ships and other modes of transport now take few minutes.

 Development of intermodal transport and containerisation are a mutually inclusive process that is self-strengthening and has a driving force that is linked to technology, management and infrastructure. Several factors have accelerated the use of intermodal containers. Factors that can be linked to the increased use of intermodal containers include; agreement about the base dimension of the containers that were reached through international standard organisation.  From the standards, a variety of container with the specifications and standards has been adopted (Containerization International, 2010).

 A revolution in the container freight industry can be represented by intermodal containerization which facilitates both economies of scale, as well as improvement in handling speed. Intermodal containerization has been facilitated by other growth factors; for instance globalisation and a substitution from bulk that is break by setting transhipment hubs that are more immediate. Intermodal containerization can be associated with a number of advantages, for example security of goods on transit and a form of warehouse where the good cannot be easily damaged. Speed and economies of scale are also other added advantages of intermodal containerization and transport.


In conclusion, the paper has evaluated various aspects of intermodal transport and containerization. In the paper, various factors that promote intermodal transportation have been examined, as well as the advantages associated. In addition to that, the paper critically reviewed intermodal containerization and the factors that have enabled its success. The paper has also highlighted some of the advantages associated with intermodal containerization.


Crainic, T. G., & Kim, K. H. (January 01, 2007). Intermodal transportation. Transportation,


Abernethy, B. C. (January 01, 2009). Intermodal transportation. Surface Transportation

Advances and Intelligent Transportation Systems, 331-344.

Mahoney, J. H. (2005). Intermodal freight transportation. Westport, Conn. (Box 2055,

Saugatuck Station, Westport 06880: Eno Foundation for Transportation.

International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association. (2005). Containerisation:

Transport & distribution of containers (including intermodal systems). London: International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association.

Containerisation International. (2010). Container guide: The intermodal reference. London:

National Magazine Co., Ltd.

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