When it comes to intermodal transport, it is the Americans who are the real experts. According to Association of American Railroads (ARR) intermodal transport is the way to success. Their presumption is supported by the record number of containers and trailers of 13.5 mill. which were transported last year. At the moment intermodal transport is the winner on the railsways, it gives the best turnover, even a better turnover than coal transports which used to be the most profitable goods in the railway business.
The reason is the increasing number of container transports: 25 years ago the share of intermodal transport was 40 percent, today it is almost 90 percent.
The explanation is simple and effective: The containers are easy to handle and can easily be moved from one means of transport to another. In addition, they are easy to stack, even double stack which is most profitable and therefore an advantage in comparison to road haulage.
With intermodal transport driver shortage is also not an issue as it is with the US-truckers. An example: 30 containers extra for longer runs require more vehicles and drivers as well whereas a train only requires one. The employee expenses are very low and furthermore, an American truck has a max. weight of 35 tons. A single train can handle a lot more tons than just 35.
The development from single vehicles to intermodal transport: In 1994 about 11 percent was transported traditionally. 10 years later this number has decreased to only 3 percent.