Comparing maritime containers and semi-trailers in the context of hinterland transport by rail
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2011

The purpose of this article is to investigate why rail is used to move semi-trailers to and from seaports to lesser extent than it is used to move maritime containers, and which actions can foster an increase of semi-trailer transport by rail. The two types of load units are obviously used in quite different logistics settings. The two transport segments are compared in terms of the transport markets they serve, the competition they face and the operational and technological principles upon which they operate. The empirical setting is the transport of general cargo in load units between Scandinavia, Continental Europe and the UK, although the container segment is analysed as an element of deep-sea liner shipping. Empirical findings are drawn from the case of the Port of Gothenburg and its Scandinavian hinterland. Sustained double-digit annual growth has led to a situation where most of the potential market for the hinterland transport of maritime containers has already been realised. The challenge for further growth is now to capture the semi-trailer segment. Not surprisingly, this analysis shows that rail is more competitive for the hinterland transport of containers than of semi-trailers, but there are still significant opportunities for reaping the benefits of rail transport of semi-trailer transport in the hinterlands of European ports. An increased integration of rail transport and Roll-on/Roll-off shipping will not only require, but also encourage, changes in the overall system design as well as its competitiveness compared to all-road and all-rail services.


roro shipping

intermodal transport

hinterland transport

container shipping

short sea shipping


Johan Woxenius

Göteborgs universitet

Chalmers, Göteborgs miljövetenskapliga centrum (GMV)

Rickard Bergqvist

Göteborgs universitet

Journal of Transport Geography

0966-6923 (ISSN)

Vol. 19 4 680-688





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