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Experiences of rail intermodal freight transport for low-density high value (LDHV) goods in Europe

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



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Objective: Previous studies have suggested an upward growth trend in low density, high value (LDHV) goods in Europe. Such goods require time sensitive, reliable services and currently, most LDHV goods are transported by road. The paper presents the findings of four case studies which detail the barriers and enablers to intermodal rail services for transporting LDHV goods.Methodology: We applied a methodological pluralism, quantitative and qualitative, on an inductive basis. Using a case study approach, the research investigates the requirements of shippers, identifies key barriers to intermodal rail service offerings and, based on the findings, suggests enablers for intermodal rail freight transport. The current research applies parallel top down and bottom up streams, with a final integration synthesis.Findings: Terminals may appear as an important barrier or enabler towards achieving a competitive intermodal rail service. By making rail terminal as an enabler, the research suggests that it is possible to carry LDHV goods by intermodal rail in a cost-efficient manner. The research attempts to seek a potential innovative solution to the barriers identified. The research compares road with an intermodal rail-road solution, in terms of cost and time, for a door-to-door service along the selected routes/corridors.Recommendation: The research recommends that technical solutions, such as automated transhipment and temperature controlled systems, are required for rail freight services for LDHV goods, but that they must be complemented by collaborative operational solutions and viable service planning for an intermodal rail transport service to be reliable and competitive with road transport.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Zunder TH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Transport Research Review

Year: 2018

Volume: 10

Issue: 24

Online publication date: 11/06/2018

Acceptance date: 19/04/2018

Date deposited: 01/05/2018

ISSN (print): 1867-0717

ISSN (electronic): 1866-8887

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1186/s12544-018-0295-7


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