Intermodal Terminals

The terminal is a key component of the intermodal transport chain since it has to ensure an efficient and safe interchange between road, rail and other transport modes (inland waterway, short sea shipping including ferries.

Intermodal Terminals – Database

Information on intermodal terminals is required by intermodal operators, customers of intermodal transport services and the “interested community” of intermodal supporters. Several sources of information exist at:

  • The intermodal terminal owners and operators themselves,
  • Ports or logistics centres in which the terminals are located,
  • Companies to whom the terminals belong,
  • Regions or countries in which they are located,
  • Intermodal operators or other institutions.

Each of these sources provides a specific set of information in various formats and actuality. With this site, operated by KombiConsult with the support of AGORA-Partners, the approach is to provide a single access to uniform information on intermodal transport terminals in Europe.

Starting with the data on terminals operated by AGORA-Partners KombiConsult seeks to expand the database geographically and from the content perspective continuously.

To have access to the interactive database please click here:

Intermodal Terminals – European experiences

In most European countries the terminals differentiate between the ownership of the terminal infrastructure- and superstructure on the one hand and the operation and management on the other hand. The ownership corresponds to the ownership of the land itself, typical infrastructures such as the rail tracks and superstructures such as Rail-mounted Gantry Cranes or Reach stackers. The management is dealing with the daily operation of the terminal which might be done by the owner or a dedicated operational company. However, the common understanding of terminals is based on the following principles:

  • Principle of non-discriminative access to terminals (at least for those that have received public funding):
  • Rail-side access for all licensed railway undertakings
  • Road-side access for all operators
  • Transparent capacity allocation and pricing
  • Bundling of different cargoes (maritime container, continental cargoes), and market segments (international and domestic relations) and thus improved capacity utilisation

This type of terminal is an own entity in the transport chain. It is analysed in the present study irrespectively of the legal, corporate or financial relations that may exist between the terminal operating company, the terminal owner, the infrastructure manager, the railway undertakings and the intermodal operators that have led to a variety of owner/operator models in Europe. Thus we are focusing on improving the operational functions and services and thereby the capacity of intermodal terminals.

The capacity of a CT terminal is determined by a couple of factors, which can only partly be influenced by the local terminal manager. The primary influences are the position of the terminal within the rail and road network, the size and shape of the real estate, the length of the handling tracks, and the number and capabilities of the handling equipment. In recent years a modular shape of terminals has been developed which is made of:

  • one – or better double-sided rail access, where
  • signalling allows for entry with momentum and direct departure of the train by the main line traction unit,
  • three to five “train long” (length can vary between countries) handling or transhipment tracks, with
  • rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMG),
  • two to three interim storage or buffer lanes,
  • one loading and one driving lane,
  • road side access with
  • check-in / check-out area (gate) and sufficient parking space.

One typical module of that kind should be able to handle about 120-150.000 loading units p.a. (rail-in and rail-out handlings). While a doubling or even trebling could improve the capacity accordingly.

Intermodal terminals are fulfilling an interface position in the intermodal supply chain. The next shows both the so-called basic functions, which are related to the pure rail/road transhipment and any intermodal terminal is required to match, and additional services, which a terminal operator may or may not offer depending on the local demand for them. There is a smooth transition between the different functions and whether they are required from the Intermodal terminal operator or whether they are offered from other parties in the supply chain (e.g. Intermodal operators, trucking companies, or other).

Basic functions and additional services of CT terminals

Source: KombiConsult analysis