Advantages & Disadvantages of European Intermodal Transport

What the pros and cons of European intermodal transport?

Intermodal transport makes use of both rail and road infrastructures are used to deliver a full load shipment. It is best suited to longer distance journeys such as UK exports to Spain, Italy, Southern France, Poland and Romania. Goods are loaded in 13.6 metre curtain-sided or rigid sided swap body trailers which then can be craned from the chassis of road freight vehicle onto a train’s chassis.

The main advantage is weight maximisation. HGVs are restricted in general to a payload of 25 tonnes whereas Intermodal swap body trailers can take up to 28 tonnes. Another factor is the difference in labour, European weekend and bank holiday driving bans applicable to HGVs do not apply to intermodal trailers. The carbon footprint altogether is a lot less and costs tend to be less for longer distance journeys.

The main disadvantage would be the speed of transport. Intermodal deliveries are invariably 1 to 3 days longer than driver-accompanied trailers. Timely delivery also relies on there being no delays on the rail network and sufficient drivers available to make the shunts to the UK rail terminal and from the European rail terminal afterward to the final delivery point. There is no flexibility if circumstances change enroute making intermodel have different risks to tradtional transport.

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