Assessing the Effects of Longer Vehicles: The Case of Pre- and Post-haulage in Intermodal Transport Chains
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2011

The demand for inland freight transport in Europe is mainly met by road transport, leading to unsustainable impacts such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and congestion. Since rail transport has lower externalities than road transport, a modal shift from road to rail is an accepted policy goal for achieving a more sustainable and competitive transport system. However, intermodal road–rail transport is mainly competitive for long-distance transport, and as a consequence, the potential for modal shift is limited. The cost efficiency of road–rail intermodal transport is particularly sensitive to pre- and post-haulage (PPH) costs, since this activity typically has a larger cost compared with its share of the total distance in the transport chain. For intermodal transportation over shorter distances, for example, below 300 km and where there are substantial PPH activities at both ends of the chain, the competitiveness of the intermodal transport system compared with that of direct road is low. Improving the efficiency of PPH activities is, therefore, of utmost importance for the competitiveness of the intermodal transport system. This paper looks into the issue of improving the cost efficiency of an intermodal transport chain by implementing an innovative and flexible legal framework regarding the PPH activities in the chain. By extending the legal framework with exemptions for longer vehicles in PPH, the cost efficiency could be greatly improved. The purpose of such a framework is to allow and enable, for PPH exclusively, the use of 2 × 40 foot or even two semi-trailers using only one vehicle in the context of the Swedish regulatory framework. This paper develops a strategic calculation model for assessing and investigating the consequences of such a framework and investigates the framework's potential in terms of cost efficiency. The model in combination with a sensitivity analysis of input variables gives a comprehensive understanding of the effects of PPH under different circumstances. From the results, it is evident that there are substantial positive effects associated with a PPH framework of longer vehicles. Results indicate that a typical shipper may experience cost reductions of about 5–10% of the total costs of the intermodal transport chain. In summary, a more innovative and flexible legal framework regarding vehicle length in the PPH links can contribute to a greater modal shift, improved cost efficiency and more environmentally friendly transportation systems.

pre- and post haulage

modal shift

combined transport


Intermodal transport


Rickard Bergqvist

Göteborgs universitet

Sönke Behrends

Göteborgs universitet

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Logistik och transport

Transport Reviews

0144-1647 (ISSN) 1464-5327 (eISSN)

Vol. 31 5 591-602


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