Intermodal: Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. Reduced costs over road trucking is the key benefit for inter-continental use. This may be offset by reduced timings for road transport over shorter distances.

Why choose one over the other and what is the difference?

The major difference between Multimodal and Intermodal is the number of contracts the shipper has with various service providers.

  • In a Multimodal Shipment, the shipper has one contract of carriage, which covers all modes of transport from origin to destination, whether that is a door-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-door. This equates to one carrier for a one journey.
    • Benefits: the shipper can hold the one carrier liable for movement should an issue arise, getting tracking and tracing updates is from one carrier and efficiency in delivery times can be met.
  • In an Intermodal Shipment, the shipper has multiple contracts, 1 with a freight forwarder or ocean carrier, another with a trucker or trucker and rail carrier in origin country and another with a trucker or trucker and trail carrier in the destination country.
    • Benefits: the ability to select your own carriers based on price or service for each leg of the shipment, the ability to stop the shipment at a certain point for any reason since you control each leg, and more agility on carrier selection if there are equipment or space issues with carriers.