The effect of transhipment costs on the performance of intermodal line-trains
Journal article, 2012
Intermodal line-trains 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. A prerequisite for line-trains are innovative transhipment technologies facilitating fast and efficient transhipments, which is likely to increase the terminal costs. The major implementation barrier of line-trains is the uncertainty regarding costs of these innovative terminals and their network benefits. The purpose of this article is to analyse the effect of terminal costs on the network performance of intermodal line-trains. The paper is based on a case study, which assesses the potential modal share for an intermodal line-train on a corridor in Sweden. The results confirm that in theory intermodal line-trains can provide competitive services on short and medium transport distances in case transhipment costs are kept low. Naturally, lower transhipment costs reduce the production costs, but of even greater importance is the ability to achieve higher load factors, which decreases the door-to-door transport costs per load-unit. This opens business opportunities for operators and cost saving potential for shippers in a market segment, which is dominated by road transport.