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Earth Day - the global need to increase intermodal transport

Earth Day - the global need to increase intermodal transport
photo: Archives/Railway
25 / 04 / 2021

This week was Earth Day, also the start of the World Summit of Climate Leaders. There is no better opportunity to highlight the benefits of intermodal freight transport. This is exactly what the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) and the International Union for Combined Road and Rail Transport (UIRR) have done.

From a climate point of view, the intermodal system offers important advantages in various dimensions: reducing traffic intensity, saving money for governments and transporters, ensuring increased transport capacity, while at the same time benefiting the environment by reducing fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

American and European markets

In North America, high-capacity and efficient rail intermodal trains carry goods between cities and move millions of trucks from long-distance highways. Then trucks provide a flexible delivery option at the so-called last mile, which allows the expansion of intermodality to carriers in all locations.

The European combined transport sector operates an extensive network of intermodal connections to ensure the delivery of containers inland from high-capacity ports and intermodal platforms[KK1] , as well as the transmission of diverse cargo on continental transport routes. Electric traction and excellent energy efficiency are essential to achieve a very low carbon footprint of intermodal transport services.

Adoption of national strategic and action plans for freight transport

IANA and UIIR support governments in adopting national strategic freight transport plans that identify intermodal transport - based on its many benefits - for an accelerated role in achieving the objectives of decarbonisation, a much-discussed topic in today's world.

"The benefits of intermodal freight transport will continue to be more fully realized in the future" says Joni Casey, President and CEO of IANA. "These include reducing traffic, maintaining motorways, reducing congestion of main transit points, fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while increasing efficiency, saving costs and ensuring additional transport capacity."

"Intermodal freight transport provides an effective solution to the various challenges that have come over the past half-century," emphasised Ralf-Charley Schultze, president of the UIRR. "Our ability to effectively introduce sustainable modes of transport into transport chains, not only for road transport, will continue to deliver positive results for mankind in terms of low-carbon footprint, energy efficiency, transport safety and cargo security, labour productivity and the impact of pollution."