The Future of Intermodal Freight Transport

The Future of Intermodal Freight Transport

Operations, Design and Policy

Transport Economics, Management and Policy series

Edited by Rob Konings, Hugo Priemus and Peter Nijkamp

This book explores the great challenge of increasing the scope of intermodal freight transport. In view of the current dominant role of road transport and the increasing difficulties in coping with a growing number of vehicles in an efficient and sustainable way, intermodal freight transport could be considered a viable alternative. However, the book makes recognition of the fact that there is still a need to improve the performance of the intermodal transport system.

Chapter 7: Container Handling in Mainports: A Dilemma About Future Scales

Joan Rijsenbrij

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, transport, urban and regional studies, transport


Joan Rijsenbrij INTRODUCTION 7.1 The ongoing expansion of world population, and the further economic development of almost every country, maintain increasing cargo flows all around the world. This globalization, along with the growing demands from consumers and the economies of scale, are essential drivers in container shipping and related container terminal operations and land transportation. Today containerization has expanded to a global door-to-door transportation system with efficient 6000–8000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessels, large high-tech terminals, intermodal, inland transportation and computerized online information systems. Shippers and consignees are increasingly demanding better performance, such as flexibility for lastminute changes, a rapid response with fast deliveries and a perfect fit in their logistics chains. However, reliability and low costs are the major issues in door-to-door containerized transportation. Shipping lines have conquered the pressure on rates with the application of economies of scale to their container vessels; ports and terminals followed with enlarged facilities with improved productivity, and inland transportation responded both with economies of scale (barge and rail transportation) and more efficient planning (trucking) to avoid empty-leg operations. In the late nineties, this drive for economies of scale has encouraged many mergers and takeovers among shipping lines, terminal operators and logistics service providers. But, nevertheless, severe competition and the inability to control capacity have resulted in tremendous price erosions, leaving a broad awareness to look for cost reduction. The pure shipping costs have already been decreased considerably and therefore the focus on cost reduction is more and more directed...

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