Intermodal Freight Transport

Chapter 9: Environmental and Economic Issues

Environmental pressures are driving the Euro-wide freight industry to take a close look at how it conducts its business. Both in the UK and in Europe there is increasing concern about the detrimental (some would say catastrophic) effects on the environment of a growing road-freight industry; traffic congestion, air pollution, lorry noise and vibration, high levels of energy consumption, and road accidents being among the major worries. But against a scenario of ever-increasing volumes of long-distance heavy-lorry traffic moving across Europe as a result of expanding Single Market trade there are viable alternatives.

9.1 An Environmental Solution

Switching long-distance freight from direct door-to-door delivery by road haulage to a system which combines the respective merits of road, rail and/or water transport is a sensible and operationally acceptable alternative. Rail freighting, which links many individual consignments into single 1000/1200-tonne train loads, and causes much less of an adverse effect on the environment while doing so, is ideally suited for undertaking the long-haul trunk leg of freight journeys between terminals, while lorry transport has the flexibility to service these terminals with efficient local collection and delivery of individual freight consignments. A relatively similar scenario applies with waterways intermodalism where many individual heavy-lorry loads may be transferred to river or canal barges capable of carrying anything from as few as 30 ISO-type containers to in excess of 400, 20-foot equivalent units (i.e. teu), thereby reducing the adverse effects on the environment of road freighting and the consequent traffic congestion. Together, these combined road rail...

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