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FREIGHTWISE background: Intermodality (co-modality) is a key priority for European freight transport policy

Intermodal transport (i.e. one transport unit using a combination of modes) is recognised as an important option when seeking to influence modal split towards more sustainable modes such as rail, short sea shipping and inland waterways. However, road transport remains indispensable and incentives and methods must be found which contribute to an optimum modal mix for every type of transport. There are a number of commercial, technical and organisational obstacles to overcome in this process of combining a number of transport services to an efficient transport chain. On a general level, there is too little transport chain thinking. Integrated transport management requires a certain level of business integration which demands trust and in consequence often a perspective of longer term co-operation.


Information access is a key element in any competitive intermodal chain which requires some degree of interoperability between the systems of the organisations involved in the chain, but also with authorities who require reporting e.g. customs, coast guard and bodies which provide traffic information. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) often find the threshold for using advanced Information Technology (IT)-based management tools still too high in term of costs and necessary know-how. Standards are too wide or inadequate for small enterprises and do not support the interaction of all parties involved.

Rapidly changing business and administrative requirements demand a high level of flexibility from the transport industry both in terms of the services offered and the management systems. Software tools and IT-services to support the management are developing, but they do not adequately serve the entire business community.