Intermodal terminals: where containers are loaded, unloaded and transferred

21. 04. 2022

Intermodal terminals are vital links in the transport chain. They are the place where containers are transshipped, forwarded and distributed. In this blog post, we will show you how important they are in freight transport and what takes place at the Rail Cargo Group (RCG) terminals.

Anyone who travels a lot will be familiar with terminals: nowadays, there are very few people who have never set foot in an airport or ferry terminal designed for passenger transport. Meanwhile, in freight transport, an intermodal terminal describes any place where containers start their journey across water or land or are transshipped to other modes of transport. The location and equipment of the terminals varies depending on the mode of transport: they can be found in urban centres, ports and at transportation hubs.

The challenges of transshipment

Intermodal terminals are critical transition points in the logistics chain: safety and efficiency can only be guaranteed if the terminal operators, intermodal operators and truck drivers, who are responsible for the first and last mile to and from the terminal, work well together. Furthermore, intermodal terminals require special facilities and equipment to manage the transport, acting like gigantic cranes which move the containers from one vehicle to another or set them aside for temporary storage. In order to keep the goods flowing, the machines remain in constant movement, operating around the clock.

High-performance RCG terminals

The ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) operates nine terminals worldwide, but also works with numerous partner terminals in places like Rotterdam, Turkey, Italy and China. In 2021, RCG transported over 982,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) via European terminals, including 471,000 TEU via its own terminals. This high rate of transshipment demonstrates the vital role played by terminals, because in intermodal freight transport, transhipping containers at terminals is nearly always necessary to allow them to be transported by rail. Our terminal services allow us to guarantee high-performance container transshipment and provide an efficient link between road and rail. We organise the transshipment, loading and unloading of units, the collection and delivery of trains and groups of wagons, provide storage for full or empty containers and offer damages settlement and repairs. State-of-the-art transshipping technology and qualified experts ensure fast, safe handling of the containers.

More detailed information about our terminals is available here.