Advantages of CT
Combined Transport is subjected to some prejudices concerning its capability of performance and its efficiency. Among those, a conviction is that CT would pay off only for long-distance traffic and could be considered suitable only for a few specific types of goods. Especially high-value and sensitive goods would be unsuitable for CT according to current critical opinions. The advantages of Combined Transport consist indisputably in long-distance traffic. The common rule-of-thumb states that Combined Transport would be profitable at 500 km to 700 km minimum. Often this is not the case. Different factors must be considered before reaching a final conclusion regarding the economic efficiency. It involves weighing the quantities to be transported, the distance, the connection and the transport frequency. Cost advantages must therefore be checked in the individual case.
When freight is transshipped by means of Combined Transport, different advantages concerning the mentioned factors result. From an economic point of view, the advantages arise through measures taken by the legislator to promote CT. The 44 tonnes regulation ranks among those factors. It allows vehicles that are used in the pre- and end-haulage or from the nearest terminal, to carry a total weight of 44 tonnes. For vehicles in road traffic only 40 tonnes of total weight are permitted. By transporting larger volumes of freight, trucking can be decreased, which directly results in financial advantages. Moreover, trucks that are used in the pre- and end-haulage within a 200 km (rail-road terminals) or 150 kilometers (port terminals) distance are excluded from driving bans during holiday time as well as on Sundays and public holidays.
Furthermore, there is a financial advantage that results from the vehicle tax-exemption for trucks involved in the pre- and end-haulage. The toll that is only charged for driven kilometers can be notably reduced by Combined Transport, where the fee is normally due exclusively during the forwarding of the freight. The general aim of Combined Transport is to benefit from the individual modes of transport. Through cargo conflation, modes of mass transport, such as rail, waterway and sea, a convenient balance regarding the costs per transported ton is achieved with immediate effect on the CO2 balance.
According to the Transport Emission Model (TREMOD) by the IFEU institute in Heidelberg, for every truck cargo that is transferred onto rail, per ton and kilometer, 54 grams of CO2 emission are saved with respect to pure road transport. This corresponds to an average reduction of two thirds of the CO2 emission. Logistics companies that choose Combined Transport meet the requirements for future-oriented green logistics, already requested by many companies and clients.
Additional business advantages result from the rigidly defined transit times in Combined Transport. Rail and sea traffic is normally managed during regular service, which ensures predictability and proper order processing. Each kilometer that is not driven leads to the saving or elimination of the drivers’ rest periods. In this manner, personnel capacity is increased and maintenance costs for the vehicles are reduced.
An economic and social advantage is the possibility of avoiding truck traffic on the road. By conflating mass transportation, road traffic can be decreased. Hence, street congestion is relieved and the roads become increasingly spared from long-distance truck traffic that is in general negatively perceived by the population. In 2011, around 78 million tonnes were transported on German railway only, corresponding to the theoretic transport volume of approx. 15.000 truck drives per day. In waterway transport around 21 million tonnes were transshipped, which is equivalent to 4000 truck drives.
In addition to the economic and ecological advantages of Combined Transport, there is also the aspect of transport security. Track-guided traffic as well as waterway transport both display a high transport security through permanent transport monitoring and centralized operational control. Especially regarding the transport of dangerous goods and the chemical industry, security plays an important role. Trucks are involved in accidents eleven times more often than trains and nine times more often than inland waterway vessels per billion ton-kilometer.