Sustainable freight transport principles and their implications for intermodal transport
Paper i proceeding, 2010

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess whether intermodal road-rail transport has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development of the freight transport sector. To achieve this, the paper aims to clarify what sustainable freight transport is and to identify the critical issues in today’s intermodal transport system. Methodology: In a deductive approach principles for sustainable freight transport are developed based on sustainable development concepts and applied on intermodal transport. Findings: Rail has the potential to offer economically and environmentally sustainable freight transport services, but in the present intermodal transport system the economic benefits can only be realised for a minor share of the transport market, and the environmental benefits on a global and regional level are achieved at the expense of higher local impacts. Implications: This article has developed principles of sustainable freight transport and identified the critical issues regarding the sustainability potential of intermodal transport. Further research on implementing innovations in rail transport and on pre- and post haulage in urban areas is needed. What is original/value of paper: This paper presents a holistic definition of sustainable freight transport based on sustainable development principles. The definition is intended to be useful for analysing other transport systems.

rail transport

pre- and post haulage

sustainable development

modal shift

Intermodal transport


Sönke Behrends

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Logistik och transport

NOFOMA conference, 10-11 June 2010, Kolding, Denmark