Intermodal Freight Transport

Chapter 12: Intermodal Road and Rail Vehicles and Maritime Vessels

We have seen throughout this book, how road haulage vehicles form the backbone of most intermodal freighting operations. Almost all of the initial and final legs of intermodal journeys are undertaken by standard road haulage vehicles, comprising either articulated or road train (i.e. drawbar) combinations fitted with platform or skeletal-frame bodywork specially equipped with quick-action twist-lock devices for securing containers and swap bodies. Besides these vehicle types, there are other variations from the standard vehicle theme. First, for piggyback operations, specially strengthened and equipped semi-trailers are necessary in order to withstand the lifting-under-load stresses incurred during loading and unloading; and second, the combined road railer semi-trailer, or bimodal system, comprising a road-going semitrailer that converts to run on rail bogies (see Figure 12.1). A number of such systems are in use or have been trialled in the UK and Europe, most notably the American RoadRailer system.

Fig. 12.1: Schematic representation of Kombirail s bimodal system showing semi-trailers being loaded to rail (Source: Kombirail).

12.1 Road Vehicles

The development of combined road rail/waterway transport operations places great emphasis on the road vehicle link between locations where goods are loaded and unloaded, and the terminal where they are transferred to and from the rail or waterway networks. However, the choice of road vehicle that may be used for this purpose is restricted by legislative requirements. In particular, such vehicles must be able to carry fully laden swap bodies and ISO containers within the constraints of the 44-tonne legal limit on maximum gross weight, bearing in mind...


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