Multimodal transport as an umbrella term
Multimodal transport is a generic term covering both intermodal and interrupted transport. It refers to transporting a load using several modes of transport. Goods are transported multimodally when it is not economically or geographically possible to transport them on only one means of transport. Since it costs time and money to handle cargo at terminals or freight villages, multimodal transport only makes sense for fairly long distances and transports that are not very time-sensitive. This shifts the focus to the supply chain as a whole. Direct, or point-to-point, transport is when the means of transport does not change.
Characteristics of different modes of transport
Logistics service providers combine the positive characteristics of different means of transport in the pre-carriage, carriage and on-carriage phases and can thus protect the environment and lower costs. For example, trains can transport large loads over long distances in an energy-saving manner. However, it is tied to the rail network and thus not very flexible. If a company has a rail siding, the railroad is an optimal means of transport, even for pre-carriage or on-carriage. A ship also moves large quantities of goods, but takes a relatively long time due to its slow speed. Trucks, in turn, offer maximum flexibility. On the other hand, they have less capacity and clog up the roads and highways. An airplane can transport goods quickly over long distances, but it has a small cargo capacity and a large environmental impact.
Difference between combined and intermodal transport
Multimodal transport encompasses interrupted and intermodal transport. While intermodal transport deliberately avoids handling goods, interrupted transport allows shipments to be transported and temporarily stored in different loading containers. A classic example of interrupted transport is traditional general cargo.