Intermodal Freight Transport

Chapter 13: Intermodal Loading Units, Transfer Equipment and Satellite Communications

It could be said, as we have done so earlier in the book, that if the Channel Tunnel was the catalyst, from a UK perspective at least, for developing intermodal road rail transport across international boundaries, then undoubtedly the standard swap body, along with the ubiquitous International Standards Organisation (ISO) shipping container, of which many millions are in use worldwide, have been crucial to the concepts of load unitization and containerization on a world-wide scale. In fact, achieving efficiency in intermodal transport operations is highly dependent upon, among other key factors, the use of standardized loading units built to conform to a regime of commonality in dimensional and constructional standards; in other words, in accordance with provisions laid down by the ISO.

The concept of standardizing types, dimensions, and technical standards for loading units is absolutely vital to ensure compatibility between the many types of rail wagon, road vehicle, waterway barge, or coastal ship, particularly in regard to the manner in which the units are lifted, positioned, and secured on the transport mode. In an effort to achieve harmony in this regard (as we have already seen in Chapter 2, but it is worth reiterating the point again here) that in 2003 the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on intermodal loading units, the purpose of which it said:

is to overcome the diversity of intermodal loading units (ILUs) and their handling and securing devices, a factor that hampers the efficiency of trans-shipment operations.

13.1 Swap Bodies

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