Experiences of rail intermodal freight transport for low-density high value (LDHV) goods in Europe

Dewan Md Zahurul Islam*, Thomas H. Zunder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have suggested an upward growth trend in low density, high value (LDHV) goods in Europe. Such goods require time sensitive, reliable services and currently, most LDHV goods are transported by road. The paper presents the findings of four case studies which detail the barriers and enablers to intermodal rail services for transporting LDHV goods.

We applied a methodological pluralism, quantitative and qualitative, on an inductive basis. Using a case study approach, the research investigates the requirements of shippers, identifies key barriers to intermodal rail service offerings and, based on the findings, suggests enablers for intermodal rail freight transport. The current research applies parallel top down and bottom up streams, with a final integration synthesis.

Terminals may appear as an important barrier or enabler towards achieving a competitive intermodal rail service. By making rail terminal as an enabler, the research suggests that it is possible to carry LDHV goods by intermodal rail in a cost-efficient manner. The research attempts to seek a potential innovative solution to the barriers identified. The research compares road with an intermodal rail-road solution, in terms of cost and time, for a door-to-door service along the selected routes/corridors.

The research recommends that technical solutions, such as automated transhipment and temperature controlled systems, are required for rail freight services for LDHV goods, but that they must be complemented by collaborative operational solutions and viable service planning for an intermodal rail transport service to be reliable and competitive with road transport.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalEuropean Transport Research Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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