What about Intermodal Freight Transport?



Firstly, what is intermodal freight transport? It refers to using a variety of transportation options, typically in the pre or post-carriage stage, when the main carriage is rail, ocean or air freight.  For example, using rail or barge transport instead of road. In Europe, the number of railways and waterways mean there are a variety of options, even though they are used relatively infrequently.

Different strokes for different folks

Looking over the past decade, freight share for rail and waterways in the European Union’s 28 countries is around 25% - a figure that has remained stable. Some countries are of course more likely to use these methods, the Netherlands, for example, sits at 50%, with France and the UK both hovering around 12%.

These disparities are largely down to available infrastructure. In the Netherlands, there are simply many more rail and waterway options to pick, but there’s more to it. The lack of communication about these solutions, government investment and general knowledge could also explain a lack of popularity.

So which countries are most intermodal? According to Eurostat, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are all big waterway fans. Sweden, Finland, Poland and Austria mainly focus on railway and all countries within the EU remain heavily reliant on road.

Why go intermodal?

Top of the list is sustainability. Intermodal transports can help reduce CO2 emissions and here’s a breakdown to give you an idea by how much:

  • Rail in Europe : around 14g CO2/km
  • Barge in Europe : around 50g CO2/km
  • Road in Europe : around 92g CO2/km

Cutting costs is always important and intermodal transport can help you do just that. Using waterways or rail is often a way of saving money. Don’t forget to factor in government support and grants you could receive: it’s the small differences that add up to big savings.

Sustainability is important for your corporate identity. Reducing your CO2 impacts, is an opportunity to toot your own horn! Today more than ever, brands can live and die based on their image. Think of it as a nice bonus for doing something worthwhile.

How to make the change

Of course, going intermodal won’t work for all of your shipments. You might not have access to the infrastructure, or it might just not make sense your product type. However, the key is uncovering what is available and how it might work for your business.

With TenderEasy, you can work on your pre and post-carriages, requesting barge and rail instead of road and comparing costs provided by LSPs, and of course, capabilities. Our tool will support you when making changes and will the templates you need in order to have a full package in your tender management and to open the door which you might have been too afraid to open!

Drop me a line on Barbara.Lacaze@tendereasy.com to hear how some of our clients are making the most of intermodal services.