Combined transport as part of intermodal transport
Combined transport, or CT for short, is a form of intermodal transport. It also involves transporting intermodal transport units by two or more modes of transport without being transferred between vehicles. However, in combined transport, the pre-carriage and on-carriage by truck is kept as short as possible, while the main run, i.e. most of the route, is covered by ships or trains. As in intermodal transport, its goal is to minimise the environmental impact and profitably combine the advantages of the different modes of transport.
Special features of combined transport
Combined transport requires a maximum distance of 200 km by road to the rail terminal and 150 km by road to the water terminal in pre-carriage or on-carriage. In addition, vehicles involved in CT can have a total weight of 44 metric tons in pre- and on-carriage. That is four metric tons more than vehicles traveling outside of combined transport. These vehicles pay less vehicle tax and are exempt from driving bans on Sundays and public holidays and during summer holidays. In addition, transport by rail or water reduces road congestion, eliminates toll costs in the main leg of the trip, and allows more transport units to be transported a long distance on one mode of transport.
Difference between accompanied and unaccompanied combined transport
There is a difference between accompanied and unaccompanied combined transport. Most combined transport is unaccompanied – this is also known as container transport. Goods are loaded directly onto ships or trains in intermodal transport units such as containers, swap bodies and semi-trailers. In accompanied combined transport, or piggyback transport, the accompanying motor vehicle is loaded directly onto the ship (RORO method) or train (rolling road) and the truck driver travels on board. This allows drivers to take their legally required rest periods on board. On the downside, not all trains are designed to carry a truck and the vehicles represent a lot of dead weight. For these reasons, unaccompanied combined transport is often preferred over the accompanied version.