Cargo that moves aboard liner ships must be able to move efficiently across land to and from ports since the most businesses and consumers that are selling and buying goods are located outside the port area. The continued efficiencies for global trade gained by the use of liner shipping are dependent upon an inland transportation network that allows for the timely and efficient overland transfer and transport of cargo.
Sufficient land-side capacity to keep cargo moving is essential for liner vessels to maintain their schedules. Supply chains served by liner vessels in 21st century are no longer port-to-port so the effectiveness of international supply chains is linked to the efficiency inland dispersal of international cargo that arrived in a country by sea.
This cargo also has to move via truck or rail on its journey from origin to destination. This means that international supply chains require an intermodal network. An intermodal network is comprised of ships, trains, planes and trucks, including the surface over which they move and the connections or transfer points between the modes, often referred to as intermodal connectors. Service disruption or insufficient capacity anywhere in the network could result in shipment delays and increased cost.
The U.S. is the largest trading nation in the world and as such represents one of the largest markets for liner shipping companies and their customers. This makes the efficiency of the U.S. intermodal network very important to the efficiency of the global liner shipping network and to global supply chains. Learn more about the U.S. intermodal network.
Similarly, another very large and important market - Europe - has an intermodal network that poses unique challenges because many countries are land-locked, or they do not have deep-water ports that can accommodate liner vessels. This means cargo often must transit long distances by truck, rail or barge, often through several countries, between the actual origin or destination and the port served by the liner vessel. Learn more about Europe's intermodal network.