Brigitte Hafner
is a communicator in the Rail Cargo Group
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RCG Inside

Railways simply explained:
Multimodality

Do you know what multimodality means? What challenges are associated with the term in the world of logistics? And why is an intelligent mix of different modes of transport crucial to success?

People are multimodal when they use various means of transport. We combine different modes of transport in our everyday life, e.g. by train to work, by bicycle to the bakery, and use the car for our weekend excursion into the countryside. It is no different in the field of freight transport. If a freight transport takes place within a time window with two or more different modes of transport, we speak of multimodal transport, which occurs particularly in the area of unaccompanied combined transport, i.e. the transport of containers, swap bodies and cranable semi-trailers. A special form of this is intermodal transport. Several means of transport are used consecutively within a transport chain. Transport operations are thus combined and unite the advantages of rail, road, water and air in a single transport chain. But that depends on the decisive mix.

The optimal choice of transport mode is crucial

As a rail logistics expert, we implement high-frequency long-distance connections for heavy goods and efficiently combine the optimum mode of transport in each case to form a homogeneous transport chain – and all this with a system. The combination of rail reliability and capacity, the flexibility of the HGV, the intercontinental capability of the ship and the speed of the aircraft results in a tailor-made intermodal transport service. The optimal combination of different modes of transport and the resulting synergies, including our many years of experience, make us experts in the field of rail transport. Our extensive international network enables us to adapt transports to regional conditions in the best possible way and to optimally integrate the environmentally friendly railways into the overall logistics chain.

The combination of the reliability and capacity of the railway, the flexibility of the HGV and the intercontinental possibility of the ship results in the optimal intermodal transport chain. © ÖBB_David Payr

Multimodality delivers

An efficient multimodal transport chain avoids the high traffic density on the roads and reduces CO2 emissions. The EU’s goal is to shift 30% of road freight transport over 300 kilometres to rail by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050. Efficient and environmentally friendly freight transport corridors are crucial to achieving our goals, especially as we will also have to face some challenges in logistics to promote multimodal transports in the coming years. Bottlenecks in freight terminals, the increasing shortage of terminal capacities and long waiting times, especially at the Schengen borders, require – in addition to suitable infrastructure – maximum service quality.

Rather than the possibility to use the best mode of transport in each case, a variety of offers is assumed. With our extensive production network with its own freight railways, our block trains and a wide selection of train products, we are opening up markets in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe and accompanying customers in growth markets such as Russia or Turkey – and also far beyond to China. This ensures environmentally friendly intermodal logistics solutions with international door-to-door services.

High terminal capacities are crucial for a multimodal efficient transport chain and thus for international freight transports. © ÖBB_David Payr