Intermodal Freight Transport

Chapter 6: The Road Haulage Role in Intermodalism

Overview

Road haulage is a vital constituent in virtually all intermodal movements. In fact, very little cargo moves intermodally without, at sometime being carried on the back of a lorry, either before being transferred onto a rail wagon, a waterway barge or a coastal ship, or after shipment by one of these alternative modes; the so-called initial and final legs of an intermodal journey. It is by far the most predominant modal choice for freight movements, accounting, across the whole of Europe, for some 75 per cent of the total freight moved on a weight basis alone it accounts for about 82 per cent of freight lifted; the difference in the figures is that when travel distance is brought into the equation, freight on rail, while less in total weight, tends to travel greater distances, apart from coal and other quarried and bulk materials which invariably travel a very short distance.

Road haulage is also a complex business, being burdened with a large number of restrictive governmental directives and regulations. Nevertheless, in terms of its role in intermodalism it offers, on the plus side, a degree of convenience and flexibility unmatched by any other mode. The principal tools of its trade, (heavy lorries), can go virtually anywhere, by comparison with other modes, to load or deliver goods. Lorries can be de spatched at very short notice to destinations either near or far, being reasonably assured that these will inevitably be served by a road, even if not by rail...

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