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Development of rail intermodal freight transport for LDHV goods in Europe – a case study approach

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam, Dr Tom Zunder


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The research reports the findings of three case studies investigating intermodal transport issues for the movement of low-density high value (LDHV) goods, in the European context. Previous studies suggest an upward trend in LDHV goods in Europe, due to changes in both production and consumption patterns. Such goods require time sensitive services, in terms of both transit time and reliability. Currently, most LDHV goods are transported by road, which better meets the needs of shippers when compared to traditional, unimodal rail freight, or intermodal rail services. Apart from offering a flexible, door-to-door and customer oriented service, road transport is also favoured by the average short transport haul between origins and destinations in Europe. The research then uses two of the case studies to investigate the requirements of shippers, as well as the key barriers to intermodal rail service offerings, using combined research methods: a top down approach (e.g. collecting, analysing and interpreting data) and a bottom up approach (analysis using interviews with a semi-structured questionnaire). Despite terminals being seen as an important barrier towards achieving a competitive intermodal rail service, the research suggests that it is possible to carry LDHV goods by intermodal rail, in a cost-efficient manner. From the findings of the research into these two case studies, one of them (rail intermodal transport) is then further researched, to seek a potential solution. This part of the research compares road with an intermodal rail-road solution, in terms of the cost and time for a door-to-door service along selected routes/corridors. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to verify the outcomes of the findings. The research reveals that the intermodal rail transport service is able to compete with road transport, by offering a quality service for both transit time and reliability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Jackson R, Zunder TH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Unpublished

Journal: Business Process Management Journal (BPMJ)

Year: 2016