The effect of fast transhipment technology on the potential for intermodal freight transport
Paper in proceedings, 2010
Traditionally, intermodal transport has a medium to high market share for large flows over long distances while the short and medium distances (less than 500km) mainly remain a domain of the road transport sector. In order to allow intermodal transport to compete in the medium distance and high quality market segment, alternative network operations that allow for an intensification of rail services and expansion of geographical coverage are needed. Intermodal liner trains that operate in corridor network designs with intermediate stops between start and end terminals are regularly advocated by intermodal transport researchers as a means to compete with all-road transport on small volumes and short distance markets. Innovative transhipment technologies facilitating fast and efficient transhipments are a necessity for intermodal liner trains since the conventional terminals are not appropriate for intermediate terminals where freight volumes are low and train dwelling times need to be short. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the transhipment unit cost’s effect on the modal shift potential of intermodal liner trains based on fast and efficient transhipments. In a theoretical case study the cost and potential modal share for an intermodal liner train on a corridor in Sweden is analysed. The method is based on modelling a competitive situation between traditional road transport and intermodal road-rail transport. The results confirm that in theory intermodal liner trains can provide competitive services on short and medium transport distances in case transhipment costs are kept low. Fast and efficient transhipment technologies can open business opportunities for operators and cost savings potential for shippers in a market segment which is dominated by road transport.