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Freight and Rail Transport in International System Essay


Intermodal Terminals

International transport services depend on intermodal terminals as they can be considered their key access points. Therefore, while developing an intermodal terminal, one should pay attention to the various factors that can affect the efficiency of the terminal before, during, and after its creation. It is possible to distinguish many aspects that should be considered in the process of development. However, the most important ones are a suitable location, the speed of throughput, profitability, flexibility, safety, and reliability.

First of all, the location of a future intermodal terminal can influence the transport system’s competitiveness. The accessibility of the location can benefit both end customers and suppliers. According to Ližbetin and Caha, the chosen location can affect the system’s accuracy and speed of operations, factors that determine the service’s reliability (100). For example, the time of delivery for a particular product may depend on the placement of the intermodal terminal.

Such aspects as the distance of the terminal from the central industrial zones, river or seaports, railway stations, and airports should all be taken into account (Roso et al. 505). Furthermore, the availability of the terminal and the possibility of future expansion should also be considered, as the continuously changing economics of countries may affect customer’s demands. Therefore, the location of a terminal should adhere to some fundamental rules. It should not only be easily accessible but also flexible. The position of the future terminal should be able to withstand changes in the environment and be close to, or easily reachable from, the main channels of transportation.

The criteria of legislation and environmental concerns should also be taken into account. Various countries, and cities, have different rules about building such structures as an intermodal terminal. For example, some restrictions on urban planning may apply in this situation. Furthermore, the issue of environmental protection should not be overlooked. It is necessary to assess the environmental impact that the establishment of a terminal can cause.

It is especially significant if the products or materials that will be transferred through the terminal could pose a threat to human health. In this case, the position of an intermodal terminal may only be chosen according to the country’s environmental and health regulations (Roso et al. 504). Furthermore, the level of pollution may also be affected by the operations of the terminal itself. For instance, the noise level of an intermodal terminal may disturb the surrounding areas. The pollution caused by construction should also be included in these considerations. Thus, choosing a suitable location and adhering to the rules is vital during the process of development.

The terminal’s design should be evaluated at all stages of its development. The chosen design can affect a terminal’s safety, which is centered on transferred goods, people who participate in the process, and vehicles that are used during transportation (Slack 269). At this stage, the design of a terminal becomes the primary focus of development. Moreover, efficient terminal design can also result in reduced costs and a higher speed of throughput. The type of equipment utilized and the layout of the terminal is vital to its work. For instance, the placement of facilities can either positively or adversely affect the operation of the whole terminal.

Furthermore, the amount of equipment is also significant. According to Ližbetin and Caha, the operating technology implemented in the terminal affects multiple aspects of the terminal’s work (100). First of all, it determines the time one spends in the terminal during the transfer. Secondly, the accuracy of the operations is also dependant on the working equipment. Furthermore, the aspect of punctuality also partially relies on the technology of the terminal, as its work can either speed up or slow down some processes.

The speed of operations is usually counted with the use of “mean loading finish time” (Caris et al. 283). Thus, this aspect affects the terminal’s performance. The time allocated for every part of the process should be minimized to enhance the terminal’s performance. Such factors as design and location, along with the terminal’s infrastructure, all affect the speed of throughput. Decisions regarding the chosen infrastructure of the terminal should be strategic and elaborate.

For example, Caris et al. propose some possible choices that can be taken to improve the speed of operations (285). For instance, some terminals can predict the demands of customers and prepare for necessary services ahead of time. Such a strategic decision can improve the speed of throughput and eliminate the possibility of waiting. The location of units in the terminal can also affect the speed of services. Moreover, crew and service scheduling is also essential in making terminals more effective.

Caris et al. also outline such concerns as the distribution of containers, scheduling jobs for workers of the terminal, and optimal assignments of vehicles for further transportation (293). Here, the planning of such aspects can affect the efficiency of the terminal. One should be concerned with these factors before and after constriction, as the workload of terminals can change over time. Zajac and Swieboda support these ideas and add that the rationalization of one’s actions can significantly increase a terminals’ productivity, eliminate errors, and enhance the level of safety (573). Therefore, the development of a terminal continues after its establishment.

The proper functioning of a future terminal also depends on the cost-effectiveness of its services. According to Zajac et al., the possibility of some reductions should be taken into account while developing an intermodal terminal (8). Time reduction, for instance, can significantly affect the effectiveness of a terminal and also result in lower costs. One can devise a layout for the terminal that will allow for shorter loading and unloading time. Moreover, the number of operations that are performed by workers in the terminal can be reduced as well. The authors report that these changes may increase the productivity of machines and save money.

Finally, the sum of these aspects affects the terminal’s competitiveness and profitability. As Zajac and Swieboda point out, the increasing levels of performance are necessary for terminals to compete with road transport successfully. One can achieve better performance and lower costs with tactical planning (Morash and Clinton 15). All in all, such factors as location, design, the speed of operations, infrastructure, cost-effectiveness, safety, reliability, and competitiveness should all be taken into consideration during the development of an intermodal terminal.

Countries’ Freight Transport

Road and rail freight transport in different countries can develop according to various principles because of the countries’ history, location, and population. The use of road transport is one of the leading ways to deliver goods. Rail transport is also one of the earliest methods of freight delivery. However, it is subject to several limitations. In many states, railroads are still used as the primary means of freight transportation.

The comparison between such countries as Australia and the US can be especially striking as their processes of development strongly depended on geography and availability of resources. The following evaluation will examine the information about Australia and the US during the years 1979 – 1999. This period can be characterized by the decline in the use of trains in the US and the increasing popularity of road transportation. Indeed, both Australia and the US started to rely on cars. However, their relationship with rail transport differed significantly.

Comparison of Freight Tasks

Currently, the US has one of the most extensive rail networks in the world. Before the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, the freight rail transport industry in the US was heavily regulated (Button and Pitfield 52). However, since that time the deregulation of the industry has brought many changes to the business. The rail network of this continent was developed and complicated, as it was established much earlier, and had expanded continuously (Ausubel and Marchetti 21).

Australia’s rail network, on the other hand, was created from independently built railways in different parts of the country. This type of progression could be explained by the state’s geography. Road transportation in both countries was broadly developed during this period as cars gained more popularity in the US, and were the only option in Australia.

In the US, rail transportation was especially important to the economy until 1950. The second half of the century brought a decline to this industry due to the occurrence of new alternative transport modes. Thus, the period from 1979 to 1999 saw a decrease in the use of rail transport as cars began to become more popular and widely used (Button and Hensher 26). However, rail transportation for the industry was still significant.

There were several services provided by US road and rail transport. First of all, coal was the primary cargo of railroads, accounting for approximately forty percent of total transported products at the end of the twentieth century. In 1979, the carload of coal was significantly lower, which showed the growing need for coal in the country. Secondly, various farm products were also mainly transported by rail. In this situation, the popularity of railroads could be explained by the growth of domestic markets and increased export rates.

Train networks also helped move various hazardous products which could not be transported by usual cars. Privately owned tank cars and rail wagons transferred chemicals and other dangerous materials across the country safely. The rail transportation of such materials only increased over time due to improving safety measures. As Button and Pitfield point out, railroad transport was perfect for moving this type of goods as it was safer than other vehicles and more developed at that time (11). Finally, the US saw an increase in transportation equipment being moved by rail. The domestic automobile business grew, as did the railroad car loadings.

Freight tasks of the road industry mostly dealt with less-than-carload transportation. The increase in freight transportation by car influenced the business and shifted some of the load from trains to other modes of transport.

Australia did not see a similar increase in its freight tasks on road and rail. Australia adopted containerization somewhat early due to its trade agreements with Europe. However, its development was slower than that of the US (“Freight Network”). The country’s road and rail transportation were mostly used for internal movements and delivery from a supplier to a seaport. This country developed other ways of transportation more actively as international trade was more accentuated.

Moreover, most of the railroads were controlled by the government, which further limited the industry. Thus, while the number of shipping containers grew in the country, its railroad network did not advance at the same speed. Rail transportation did not increase significantly until the beginning of the twenty-first century. The country’s road transport network was more developed during this period. Australian companies heavily relied on roads as rail transportation was hard due to the inconsistent population of the territory. Australia had many highways that created a network of tracks throughout the country.

Factors Affecting Freight Transport

The geography of the US greatly influenced the development of rail and road transportation. First of all, after their creation, railroad networks became the most used type of transportation for almost every industry as they were easy to maintain and build. Moreover, the size of the country also affected the development of this mode of transport. The population in the US was dispersed more consistently throughout the country compared to Australia.

Thus, the development of railroad networks was possible due to people being present in all parts of the state. Australia, on the other hand, would not benefit from a system of railroads due to it being populated mostly near sea and ocean ports (“Freight Network”). The center of the country had an environment that was unfit for the industry. It is possible that this factor greatly influenced the process of railroad establishment in Australia. Roads, on the other hand, became increasingly important in Australia, as the country did not have any other means of transporting goods internally.

In the US, freight railroads regained some of their significance due to the rise of international trade in the 1990s. Furthermore, the Staggers Act contributed to the revival of rail networks as well. This act brought changes to the way railroad operations were regulated and provided carriers with a more favorable environment. Private organizations owned rail freight transport. Road transportation gained popularity during this time due to its mobility and versatility.

Moreover, cars took over the portion of the business that dealt with less-than-carload orders. While railroads mostly worked with bulk products, road transport had more demand in other areas of the industry. Various highway systems changed the freight industry and made road transportation more widespread throughout the country. The number of trucking companies, for instance, increased after the Motor Carrier Act which was passed in 1980. This act deregulated the industry and positively influenced the development of road freight transportation.

On the other hand, Australia’s railroads were owned and controlled by the government (“Freight Network”). Freight transportation was not supported due to this regulation being very rigid. However, the changes in the industry included the deregulation of rail transport and increasing road development. While the industry was dominated by ships and cars, railroads gained some attention as well. Australia did not have the same amount of roads as the US.

Moreover, in the twentieth century, the US already had a highly developed network of railroads, while Australia had only separate developments in different parts of the country. Thus, it was easy for US companies to turn back to using railways in the 1980s. Australia, on the contrary, never heavily relied on rail transportation in the first place. While the deregulation act of 1980 increased the number of private businesses in the state, the use of these modes of transportation did not become prevalent in the industry.

Works Cited

Ausubel, Jesse, and Cesare Marchetti. “The Evolution of Transport.” Industrial Physicist, vol. 7, no. 2, 2001, pp. 20-24.

Button, Kenneth J., and David A. Hensher, editors. Handbook of Transport Systems and Traffic Control. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2001.

Button, Kenneth, and David Pitfield, editors. Transport Deregulation: An International Movement. Springer, 1991.

Caris, An, et al. “Planning Problems in Intermodal Freight Transport: Accomplishments and Prospects.” Transportation Planning and Technology, vol. 31, no. 3, 2008, pp. 277-302.

“Freight Network.” Australian Government. 2015. Web.

Ližbetin, Ján, and Zdeněk Caha. “The Optimization of the Intermodal Terminals.” NAŠE MORE, vol. 62, no. 3, 2015, pp. 97-100.

Morash, Edward A., and Steven R. Clinton. “The Role of Transportation Capabilities in International Supply Chain Management.” Transportation Journal, vol. 36, no. 3, 1997, pp. 5-17.

Roso, Violeta, et al. “Inland Intermodal Terminals Location Criteria Evaluation: The Case of Croatia.” Transportation Journal, vol. 54, no. 4, 2015, pp. 496-515.

Slack, Brian. “Intermodal Transportation.” Modern Transport Geography. 2nd ed., edited by Brian Hoyle and Richard Knowles, John Wiley & Sons, 1998, pp. 263-289.

Zajac, Mateusz, and Justyna Swieboda. “An Unloading Work Model at an Intermodal Terminal.” Theory and Engineering of Complex Systems and Dependability, edited by Wojciech Zamojski et al., Springer, 2015, pp. 573-582.

Zajac, Mateusz, et al. “Analysis and Evaluation of Selected Transport Processes in the Inland Intermodal Terminal.” The International Journal of Transport & Logistics, vol. 14, 2014, pp. 1-9.

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