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Intermodal Transportation – The Fundamentals

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Intermodal transportation has been used since the 18th century. By definition, this is a type of transportation whereby freight is moved through two or more modes or carriers before reaching its destination. Some of the modes of transportation used include rail, ship and truck. The containers used here are usually standardized built specially to be secured to special trailers. This is done without necessitating the need to handle the freight itself. A scenario is where by a shipper receives an empty container into which the freight is loaded and moved via truck to the rail road yard, loaded to a train and shipped to the destination.  Upon reaching the destination city, it is move, again by truck to the consignee’s place where the freight is offloaded and the empty container returned to pick up another consignment.


There are several risks associated with direct handling of freight and this type of transportation eliminates such risks. Some of these risks may include damage and loss of cargo .Other advantages of this transportation is that it is very secure. The containers are made of steel and this provides both security and durability.  The way the containers are designed makes it easy to transport them easily from one mode to another. Intermodal transportation is also very fast and efficient.

Another very important advantage is that this mode of transportation is environmental friendly as it minimizes carbon emission to the environment. Fuel consumed by this mode of transportation is very minimal. Nowadays, climate change is one of the most talked about topics and any effort to reduce the negative effect our activities have on the environment is highly commended.

Best suited freight

This mode of transportation is best where transporting intermediate or finished goods. The preferred freight should be less than 25 tons. Where transporting goods for a long distance, say more than 300 miles, multiple modes are also recommended for transportation. In such cases, if only one mode is used, say truck, it may take more than one day for the cargo to reach the consignee. For high value cargo, people usually prefer more direct modes of transport like air cargo. Intermodal transportation in such cases is considered riskier and slower. Low value cargo can be transported via rail or sea as transportation via multiple modes might be a bit too costly. This option is therefore best when dealing with cargo with intermediate value.

 Most companies are dropping the usual rail or trucks transport for this multi modal transportation options because of the above advantages among others. If you are considering trying out this type of transportation, go to the internet and you will find quite a number of companies that offer these services. You can search by city to find the company closest to you. In their websites, such companies always provide contact details and therefore you can reach them and get on advice on the best route and service for your freight and any other information that you may require. You should read their reviews online before decide which one to settle for.