Intermodal Road-Rail Transportation for Express Transport Services

By Sofia Ohnell – Chalmers University of Technology

Express transport services are produces in highly modularized transport systems, a fact that implies that one subsystem can be exchanged for another without causing a need for major changes in other parts of the system. Express goods are not common on a large scale in freight railway transport systems, as those are often not considered reliable enough for time-critical goods. The point of departure becomes: how can intermodal road-rail transportation as a production system for express transport services be matched with the core logistical function? The match would then be forming the common part of the goods production and consumption systems in the various links of a supply chain in such a way that the match simultaneously fulfils the transport operator’s demand for cost efficiency, the shipper’s or proxy customer’s demand for service quality and the demands for sustainable transportation from the society.

Thus the aim of this thesis is to show how such a system for express transport services, based on the functions in an intermodal road-rail system, should be organized to match core logistical requirements and make the system trustworthy among logistics service providers.

The research presented is positioned within the subareas (1) management and control, (2) service concepts, and (3) functionality of the physical production system. The papers included in the thesis apply different modeling approaches, each of which shows the item of study from a slightly different perspective compared to the previous ones.

Paper 1 presents a survey of seven suppliers of express and parcel transport services on the Swedish market, in total 20 services are included. Paper 2 includes a case study of a pilot test where intermodal road-rail transportation was incorporated with an airfreight transport system, while paper 3 introduces and uses an evaluation model for intermodal road-rail overnight transportation.

In conclusion, it is proposed that a shift to intermodal transportation starts with less-than-trucload goods rather than overnight express and parcel goods. If solid intermodal transport systems for less-than-truckload goods can be built, they could serve as the basis to which other types of goods are added. through an efficiently designed co-production of transport services together with consolidation. To support the build-up of transport systems, a model is made of how a transport system is formed by transport networks, which connect different intermodal transport chains. Lastly, it is suggested that a clear separation, between intermodal transportation as a technical production system and the business and marketing concept of transport services, is made.

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