When Should Firms Use Intermodal Transportation — and Why?

When Should Firms Use Intermodal Transportation — and Why?

May 10, 2022

Although intermodal transportation might not sound like a good idea since it involves various transportation modes, it can greatly benefit firms. However, not all shipments need intermodal transportation. That’s why it’s paramount to understand whether this transportation mode is suitable for you and whether it can improve efficiency and cut costs before adopting it. Read on to learn why and when firms should use it. 

What Is Intermodal Transportation?

Intermodal transportation refers to a shipment method that uses more than one freight mode to transport goods from one place to the other. These modes include road, rail and air. 

When Should Firms Use Intermodal Transportation?

Long Distance Freights

Intermodal transportation is ideal for firms that ship goods more than 750 miles. These firms can switch to rail to cut down transportation costs. If these firms were to use road or air only, the cost of transportation would be much higher. 

Low Value and Medium Value Shipments

Firms that ship goods of low or medium value can consider intermodal transportation to cut costs. These firms may end up spending unreasonably high amounts on transportation if they use a single mode such as air or road. 

Cross Border Shipping

Cross border shipping can be a challenge when using some modes of transport, such as roads, and can lead to delays due to inspections, customs, tax and clearance processes. Firms avoid this problem by choosing other transportation modes, such as air and rail. 

Why Should Firms Use Intermodal Transportation?

It Reduces the Cost of Transport

Intermodal transportation helps firms save money on fuel. Some transportation modes such as air and road are very expensive. Combining them with less expensive modes, such as rail, cuts down the cost of transportation.


Some transportation modes, such as rail, are very safe due to fewer stopovers, and their routes are also stable. Trains also rarely get involved in accidents. This offers safety for loaded items, especially where other transport modes, such as roads, are risky. 


Intermodal transportation offers great reliability, especially when it comes to capacity. If you ship heavy loads, rail mode can come in handy. It helps avoid making several trips, which would escalate transportation costs and cause inconvenience. 

Additionally, when you use various modes of transportation instead of relying on one, you won’t have problems if one mode is unavailable. You will always have an alternative. 


If your firm is environmentally conscious, using intermodal transportation can be a great way of reducing environmental pollution. For example, trucking has been proven to be one of the major contributors to air pollution. By using other transportation alternatives, you reduce your carbon footprint significantly.

Reducing your carbon footprint is not only good for the environment. It is also good for your firm, as it increases its brand awareness. 

As seen above, intermodal transportation can offer several benefits to firms, such as safety and reduced transportation costs. However, you still need to consider a few factors and come up with key metrics for measuring intermodal success before adopting this model to ensure it’s suitable for your firm. 

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