International Handbook on Mega-Projects
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International Handbook on Mega-Projects

Edited by Hugo Priemus and Bert van Wee

This comprehensive and accessible Handbook presents state-of-the-art research on the decision-making processes in the deliverance of mega-projects – large infrastructure projects for the transportation of people and/or goods.
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Chapter 10: Mega-projects in intermodal freight transport: innovation adoption

Arjan van Binsbergen, Rob Konings, Lóri Tavasszy and Ron van Duin


Intermodal transport technology has been a, if not the, main driving force behind the spectacular and ongoing growth of international transport in the post-war world. Many books have been written on the concept of standardized freight unitization (see, e.g., Levinson, 2006), which has allowed massive scale economies to develop in global transport. Investments in ports followed as the throughput of major seaside transhipment hubs and transport flows into their hinterland approached millions of containers per year. Clearly, intermodal transport facilities had become mega-projects. These were, however, not only visible by their sheer scale(the planned Rotterdam coastal land reclamation, for example, spans 2000hectares and costs 2.7 billion euros, not counting private investments interminals) (Port Authority Rotterdam, 2012), but mostly by their enormous complexity. Intermodal transport not only by definition links different actors (service providers of different modes of transport, infrastructure providers, terminal operators), it also comprises a complicated chain of activities. Because of the limited number of users of transhipment terminals(several orders of magnitude lower than in passenger transport, often not more than a handful) it involves investments in service connections and in synchronized operations. In addition, it involves a more far-reaching intrusion into the natural or built environment than uni-modal transport projects. Transhipment generates additional activities that cluster around and provide employment, it is space extensive, produces local emissions and noise annoyance and involves public–private investments.

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