Intermodal Transportation for Sustainable Logistics

Written by Tam Wan Shiong, DLSM

by Tam Wan Shiong, DLSM

As a significant piece of worldwide exchange, cargo transport has become quickly in the course of recent decades. Planning financially savvy and profoundly effective vehicle systems is critical in cargo transport. The main modes of transport are air, rail, road and sea. Although road transport still constitutes a significant part of freight transport, intermodal transport is a preferred alternative for establishing a sustainable transport system.

Intermodal transport can be defined as the transport of goods in the same transport (loading) unit using two or more modes of transport together, and the handling of the goods rather than the goods themselves. The utilization and advancement of Intermodal transport have various monetary, social and ecological focal points.

Key Reasons for Intermodal Transportation

o Services Are Easier to Attain
Intermodal opens up other avenues of transportation that are more readily available so trucking services can be kept to a minimum. While trucking is still part of the intermodal system, it’s easier to find a truck driver to do a short day run versus one who will provide long-haul services.

o It is More Affordable

Using Intermodal transportation is additionally fundamentally less expensive than depending only on whole deal trucking. The main part of the miles for a multi-purpose shipment will be signed on a train, which is far more affordable than over the street trucking.

o It is Better for the Environment

Intermodal is also more environmentally friendly than long-haul trucking because large numbers of freight containers are moved together using the most efficient modes of transportation.

Global Market for Intermodal Freight Transportation

With the possibility of integrating multiple modes of transport, provides a flexible option for effectively handling the changing requirements of supply chain management in global markets. The division is likewise progressively moving its emphasis from basically on the successful support of foundation segments to procedures and frameworks, winding up increasingly practical and increasing more noticeable quality over various new application areas.

There has been an enormous ascent in trailer and compartment traffic crosswise over worldwide railways in the course of recent decades and intermodal freight transportation keeps on assuming a noteworthy job in the development of cargo in present occasions also. With the significant rise in global imports and exports and an overall rise in regional, domestic, as well as international logistics, the global market for intermodal freight transport is expected to witness a significant rise in growth avenues in the next few years.

The market could witness massive growth opportunities in developing economies across regions such as Asia Pacific and Latin America owing to the increased focus on development of intermodal infrastructure to complement the expanding supply chains and thriving industrial sector. The market could also benefit from the rising globalization of small and large businesses from distant corners of the globe.

Greater Efficiency and Economies of Scale

Because it is possible to ship more in less time with intermodal transit systems, businesses can take advantage of economies of scale with reduced environmental impact. Research into more aerodynamic freight train designs and loading procedures has further reduced intermodal transit energy use.

Supply Chain Ads

Because of the increased efficiency of intermodal freight trains, we can now transport a ton of freight 457 miles on one gallon of fuel, which is a 94% increase since 1980. By using diverse modes of transit, companies are lowering fuel consumption and streamlining their operations.

Sustainability in Intermodal Freight Transportation

The sustainability of intermodal transport is said to be controlled by socio-economic, demographic and environmental megatrends. It is argued that sustainable transport should be safe, be of high-quality, and be accessible to all. Also, sustainable transport is to be ecologically sound, economically viable, and be a positive contributor to local, national and international sustainable development.

Intermodal transportation system offers better advantages of sustainability in all its three dimensions namely economic, social and environmental. Economically, Intermodality impacts the total system costs, and cost compositions, total system time expense and its composition and capacity occupancies of service lines. The social impacts from intermodal system are derived from optimized network flows and flow concentrations yielding to a reduction in road traffic, both as direct road transport and as pre- and end-haulage. Environmentally, the intermodal concept gives a great benefit of reduction in emissions.

Benefits of Intermodal Transportation

o Lower Cost

Shippers can exploit lower rates, increasingly unsurprising estimating, and the adaptability of stacking and emptying merchandise in a dropped trailer condition, which diminishes dealing with expenses.

o Environmentally Friendly

Shipper can significantly reduce their carbon footprint by going intermodal, because trains only emit approximately 5.4 pounds of carbon dioxide per 100 ton-miles, whereas trucks emit approximately 19.8 pounds.

o Reliability, Capacity, and Safety Advantages

Shippers have more access to gear and institutionalized travel plans. As organizations move their freight to intermodal, there is likewise the chance to streamline their invert coordination’s, giving extra reserve funds.

o Quality Service

Possibly the biggest benefit of using intermodal transportation is the quality of service. Intermodal is more resourceful than other modes. Shippers have discovered that intermodal transportation is faster than OTR, as intermodal providers are increasing train speed and reduce the time for cars in the yard.

o Convenience

Intermodal transportation is convenient, too. The technological advances in the industry have made shipping intermodal just as efficient and reliable as shipping OTR. Containers now have track and trace capabilities. Shippers no longer have a 3-day span for delivery time and kept in the dark hoping their shipment made it. Visibility into shipment status is the same as shipping OTR, making intermodal service selection easier and mode comparison more accurate.


Global intermodal freight transportation is increasing, and Customer demanding of their goods delivery or received with faster and safety.Therefore, Intermodal transport model is sustainability because it brings positive economic, environmental and social impact to business partners. It also provides significant cost saving, increased reliability, greater capacity and offers substantial green and safety advantages.


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About the Author Tam Wan Shiong (WS) has 20 years of experience in logistics management, specifically in the field of International freight and delivery operations. He is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Wan Shiong completed the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) on September 2019 at SIPMM Institute.