What is Multimodal Transportation?

What is Multimodal Transportation?


What is Multimodal Transportation? – Does your business involve moving of shipments from place to place? There are situations where a single mode of transportation may not be enough. You may need to plan and sync between different modes of transportation on certain occasions. The mode of movement will determine when the products will reach its destination. Most business owners turn to expert third-party services for logistics and transportation of goods. But, even when your business is relying on a third-party provider, it is important that you know how the logistics industry works. 

Understanding Multimodal Transportation 

Combined transportation or multimodal transportation is the use of two or more modes of transportation or carriers. Here, one single carrier is responsible for the entire contract, and it is known as a multimodal transport operator (MTO). It is legally liable for the process from source to destination. It is not necessary that the single carrier is responsible for the entire process; there are several subcarriers involved. The subcarriers are actual carriers that take the goods from one place to another. In this case, the carrier who has received the contract issues a Multimodal Bill of Lading. This single contract will protect the freight during the door-to-port, door-to-door, port to door delivery. 

Usually, people tend to get confused between intermodal and multimodal transportation as both these methods suggest two or more modes of shipping. But, you need to understand that both these terms are not interchangeable or synonyms. In the intermodal model, for each part of the transportation, a different carrier is responsible. On the other hand, in multimodal, the primary carrier is responsible for all parts of the transportation. 


Multimodal transportation can be short sea shipping or road/rail transportation. The possibility of transporting goods using different means through a single contract makes it commercially simpler. 

  • It can be done for national as well as international transport.
  • Load transfer is done using two or more types of transport.
  • The transfer can be done on an international and national level.
  • Vehicles used are land transport vehicles, maritime or air vehicles.
  • Tracking of goods can be done through a satellite system.
  • One entity is responsible for meeting the delivery requirements.
  • The environmental impact is less.
  • The paperwork involved is less as a single carrier is responsible.
  • There is one contact for tracking the position of shipment.

Advantages of Multimodal Transportation 

The biggest USP of multimodal transportation is that it eliminates the involvement of intermediaries. Other advantages include –

  • It can be adapted for transport to short or long distances.
  • Multimodal transportation reduces overall cargo handling times.
  • Lower rates of theft, damage to goods or loss of goods in transit.
  • Lower custom controls make it easy to handle the transport.
  • It provides an economy of scale in terms of road haulage, deep-sea vessels, river transport, rail transport and more.
  • Multimodal transportation reduces the burden of formalities, documentation, and paperwork. There is no need to create separate documentation for each leg of the transport.
  • Apart from the shipping lines, it is also beneficial to the customers. It gives them ease of management, reduced cost and convenience.

Multimodal transportation has gained a lot of popularity due to its immense benefits. It helps consumers guarantee on time and cost effective deliveries. In future, multimodal transportation will be in huge demand and you will witness lots of advancements taking in this field.

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