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Topic 3 – Transportation Modes. A Diversity of Modes Intermodal Transportation Passengers or Freight?. 1. Transportation Modes. Transport modes: Vehicles: Mobile segment. Supporting the mobility of passengers, freight and information. Infrastructures: Fixed segment.

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Topic 3 transportation modes

Topic 3 – Transportation Modes

A Diversity of Modes

Intermodal Transportation

Passengers or Freight?

1 transportation modes
1. Transportation Modes

  • Transport modes:

    • Vehicles:

      • Mobile segment.

      • Supporting the mobility of passengers, freight and information.

    • Infrastructures:

      • Fixed segment.

      • Supporting movements.

    • Three basic types:

      • Land (road, rail and pipelines).

      • Water (shipping).

      • Air.

    • Each mode had a set of technical, operational and commercial characteristics.

Performance comparison for selected freight modes
Performance Comparison for Selected Freight Modes



1 Barge Equivalency

1500 Tons

52,500 Bushels

453,600 Gallons



22,500 Tons787,500 Bushels6,804,000 Gallons


15 barges on tow

100 Tons3,500 Bushels30,240 Gallons


Hopper car

10,000 Tons350,000 Bushels3,024,000 Gallons


100 car train unit

26 Tons910 Bushels7,865 Gallons


Semi-trailer truck

B a diversity of modes
B – A Diversity of Modes

  • 1. Road Transportation

  • 2. Rail Transportation

  • 3. Pipelines

  • 4. Water Transportation

  • 5. Air Transportation

  • 6. Modal Competition

1 road transportation
1. Road Transportation

  • Overview

    • Large consumers of space.

    • Lowest level of physical constraints among transportation modes.

    • Environmental constrains are significant in road construction.

    • Average operational flexibility (vehicles can serve several purposes).

    • High maintenance costs, both for the vehicles and infrastructures.

    • Linked to light industries (rapid movements of freight in small batches).

1 road transportation1
1. Road Transportation

  • History

    • The first land roads were trails (hunting).

    • With the first nation-states trails started to be used for commercial purposes.

    • Domestification of animals such as horses, mules and camels.

    • Wheeled vehicles encouraged construction of better roads.

    • Requires a level of labor organization and administrative control:

      • Provided by a central government offering a level of military protection over trade routes.

      • 3,000 BC the first road systems in Mesopotamia.

      • Roman Empire 300 BC built the first comprehensive road network.

1 road transportation2
1. Road Transportation

  • Modern road networks

    • Creation of modern nation-states (17th century):

      • National road transportation systems were formally established.

      • France: Royal Roads system spanning 24,000 km.

      • Great Britain: 32,000 km system of private toll turnpikes.

      • United States: 3 million km of roads, most unpaved, was in operation by the early 20th century.

  • Road engineering

    • Construction of reliable and low cost hard surface roads.

    • Scottish engineer McAdam developed a process:

      • Hard and waterproof road surfaces made by cemented crushed stone, bound together either with water or with bitumen.

    • Improved the reliability and the travel speed on roads.

1 road transportation3
1. Road Transportation

  • National highway systems

    • Road development accelerated in after WWII.

    • American Interstate highway system:

      • Initiated in 1956.

      • About 56,000 km was built from the 1950s to the 1970s.

      • Additional 9,000 km between 1975 and 1998.

      • Overall, about 70,000 km of four-lane and six-lane highways were constructed.

      • Linking all major American cities, coast to coast.

    • Trans-Canada highway completed in 1962.

    • By the 1970s, every modern nation has constructed a national highway system.

1 road transportation4
1. Road Transportation

  • Public sector

    • Main supplier of road transport infrastructures.

    • Unpractical to use a similar pricing system than a commercial enterprise.

    • Most roads are not economically profitable but must be socially present as they are essential to service populations.

    • Only possible on specific trunks that have an important and stable traffic.

    • Toll roads:

      • Highways linking large cities.

      • Bridge and tunnels.

    • Can expropriate the necessary land for road construction.

    • Economies of scale and their indivisibility.

1 road transportation5
1. Road Transportation

  • Costs

    • Rights of passage.

    • Development costs (planning).

    • Construction and expropriation costs.

    • Maintenance and administration costs.

    • Losses in land taxes (urban environment).

    • External costs (accidents and pollution).

  • Income

    • Registration.

    • Gas (taxes)

    • Purchases of vehicles (taxes).

    • Tolls, parking, and insurance fees.

2 rail transportation
2. Rail Transportation

  • Overview

    • Composed of a traced path on which are bound vehicles.

    • Average level of physical constrains:

      • Linked to the types of locomotives.

      • Affected by the gradient.

    • Heavy industries are traditionally linked with rail transport systems.

    • Containerization:

      • Improved the flexibility of rail transportation.

      • Linking it with road and maritime modes.

2 rail transportation1
2. Rail Transportation

  • Geographical setting

    • Established differently because different goals were to be achieved.

    • Access to resources.

    • Servicing regional economies.

    • Territorial control.

  • Rail monopolies

    • High level of economic and territorial control.

    • Monopoly in Europe and oligopoly in North America.

    • Regular (scheduled), but rigid, services.

    • Transport mode the most constrained by the physiography.

Geographical settings of rail lines
Geographical Settings of Rail Lines

Transcontinental Lines

Local / Regional Networks

Penetration Lines

Nation A

Nation B

2 rail transportation2
2. Rail Transportation

  • Technical issues

    • Space consumption:

      • Small along lines.

      • Important at terminals.

    • Gradient and turns.

    • Vehicles:

      • Very flexible in terms of vehicles and there is a wide variety of them filling different purposes.

      • Bulk, liquids, grain, containers, passengers, cattle, cars, coal.

    • Gauge:

      • Standard gauge of 1.4351 meters for North America and for most Western Europe.

2 rail transportation3
2. Rail Transportation United States, 1840-2003

  • Economic rationale

    • Market area and capacity:

      • Transport raw materials over long distances.

      • Move passengers and freight (cars, agricultural equipment, etc.)

      • The average length was 1,300 km compared with 700 km for trucks.

      • Intermodal integration favored segmentation and specialization.

    • Costs:

      • High construction and maintenance costs.

      • Shipping costs decrease with distance and load.

      • Transshipments and train assembly increase costs.

      • Rail operating costs: labor (up to 60%), locomotives (16%) and wagons, fuel, maintenance and equipment (24%).

2 rail transportation4
2. Rail Transportation United States, 1840-2003

  • Benefits:

    • Accelerated the industrialization process.

    • Accelerated economic development and human settlements.

    • Multiplier effects on industrial activities.

    • Safety; after air transportation, the safest mode.

  • Regulation:

    • Highly dependent from government subsidies.

    • Governments financing, mainly for the sake of national economic imperatives.

2 rail transportation5
2. Rail Transportation United States, 1840-2003

  • High speed train networks

    • Require special lines, but can also use the existing lines at a lower speed

    • Speed of about 300 km/h.

    • Separation between passenger and freight traffic.

    • By-passing several centers of less importance.

    • Over average distances, they have proved to be able to compete effectively with air transportation.

3 pipelines
3. Pipelines Speed Train Service

  • Overview

    • Single purpose: carry one commodity from a location to another.

    • Built largely with private capital:

      • Has to be in place before any revenues are generated; significant capital commitment.

    • Large quantities of products where no other feasible means of transport (usually water) is available.

    • Two main products dominate pipeline traffic:

      • Oil and gas.

      • 17% of all tons-km in the US.

    • Locally pipelines are significant for the transport of water.

    • Low physical constraints:

      • The landscape and pergelisol in arctic / subarctic environments.

3 pipelines1
3. Pipelines Speed Train Service

  • Pipeline systems

    • Construction costs vary according to the diameter:

      • Increase proportionally with the distance and with the viscosity of fluids.

    • Longest pipelines:

      • Gas pipeline: Alberta to Sarnia (Canada); 2,911 km.

      • Oil pipeline: Transiberian; 9,344 km in length.

    • Trans Alaskan pipeline:

      • 1,300 km long.

      • Built under difficult conditions.

      • Above the ground for most of its path.

    • System has very little flexibility:

      • Cannot respond well to geographical fluctuations of the supply or demand.

Trans alaska pipeline
Trans-Alaska Pipeline Speed Train Service

4 water transport
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Issues

    • Dominant support of global trade:

      • International and seaborne trade are interrelated.

      • 96% of the world trade is carried by maritime transportation (mass).

    • International trade and maritime transportation:

      • Interrelated.

      • 25,000 billion tons-km are on average transported annually.

      • 7,000 by rail and 3,000 by road.

      • 71% of all freight shipped globally.

      • For every $1,000 of exports, there is one ton of freight being shipped by maritime transportation.

4 water transport1
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Domains of maritime circulation

    • Geographical by its physical attributes:

      • 71% of the terrestrial surface.

    • Strategic by its control.

    • Commercial by its usage.

  • Maritime routes

    • Corridors of a few kilometers in width.

    • Trying to avoid the discontinuities of land transport.

    • Function:

      • Obligatory points of passage, which are strategic places.

      • Physical constraints (coasts, winds, marine currents, depth, reefs, ice).

      • Political borders.

    • The majority of maritime circulation takes place along coastlines.

Domains of maritime circulation
Domains of Maritime Circulation 1960-2003

Rhine / Ruhr / Danube


Chang Jiang


St. Lawrence / Great Lakes





4 water transport2
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Maritime enclaves

    • Countries that have difficulties to undertake maritime trade:

      • Not part of an oceanic domain of maritime circulation.

    • Requires agreements with neighboring countries:

      • Access to a port facility through a road, a rail line or through a river.

    • Not necessarily imply an exclusion from international trade:

      • Substantially higher transport costs.

      • On average 50% higher than countries that are not landlocked.

      • Less than 40% of the trade volume of the median coastal country.

      • May impair economic development.

Maritime enclaves and accessibility

Less than 700 km 1960-2003

More than 700 km

Maritime Enclave

Maritime Enclaves and Accessibility

4 water transport3
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Global fleet

    • About 85,000 ships of more than 100 tons.

    • Half of them performing transport functions and the other half performing service functions (e.g. tugs).

    • Growth of the number of ships as well as their average size.

    • Oceanic maritime traffic dominantly concerns freight.

4 water transport4
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Passenger vessels

    • Passenger ferries:

      • People are carried across relatively short bodies of water in a shuttle-type service.

      • Tend to be small and fast vessels.

    • Cruise ships:

      • Passengers are taken on trips of various durations, usually over several days.

      • Usually very large capacity ships.

      • Before air transportation, serviced by liner passenger ships, dominantly over the North Atlantic.

  • Roll on-Roll off (RORO) vessels

    • Allow cars, trucks and trains to be loaded directly on board.

    • The largest are the car carriers that transport vehicles from assembly plants to the main markets.

Cruise ship
Cruise Ship 1960-2003

Ro ro cargo ship
RO-RO Cargo Ship 1960-2003

4 water transport5
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Bulk cargo

    • Freight, both dry or liquid, that is not packaged.

    • Minerals (oil, coal, iron ore) and grains.

    • Requires the use of specialized ships such as oil tankers as well as specialized transshipment and storage facilities.

    • Single origin, destination and client.

    • Prone to economies of scale.

  • Break-bulk cargo

    • General cargo that has been packaged in some way with the use of bags, boxes or drums.

    • Numerous origins, destinations and clients.

    • Before containerization, economies of scale were difficult to achieve.

4 water transport6
4. Water Transport 1960-2003

  • Growth of maritime traffic

    • Increase in energy and mineral cargoes:

      • Growing demand from developed economies.

      • Many developing countries, such as China, are also increasingly involved in importing raw materials.

    • Globalization:

      • International division of the production and trade liberalization.

    • Technical improvements in ship and maritime terminals.

    • Economies of scale:

      • Remain a low cost mode.

      • Strengthened by containerization

4 water transport7
4. Water Transport millions)

  • Technical innovations

    • Size:

      • Expresses type as well as capacity.

      • Each time the size of a ship is doubled, its capacity is cubed.

      • The largest tankers (ULCC) are around 500,000 dwt

      • The largest dry bulk carriers are around 350,000 dwt.

      • Remaining constraints in ship size are the capacity of ports and canals.

    • Speed

      • Average speed of ships is about 15 knots (1 knot = 1 marine mile = 1,853 meters), which is 28 km per hour.

      • A ship can travel about 575 km per day.

      • Recent ships can travel at speeds between 25 to 30 knots (45 to 55 km per hour).

      • Reaching higher maritime speeds remains a challenge which is excessively costly to overcome.

4 water transport8
4. Water Transport millions)

  • Specialization of ships:

    • General cargo ships, tankers, grain carriers, barges, mineral carriers, bulk carriers, methane carriers and container ships.

  • Ship design:

    • The hulls are the result of considerable efforts to minimize energy consumption, construction costs and improve safety.

    • A ship can take between 4 months (container and crude carriers) and 1 year to build (cruise ship).

  • Automation:

    • Self-unloading ships

    • Computer assisted navigation (crew needs are reduced and safety is increased) and global positioning systems.

    • Smaller crews being required to operate larger ships.

4 water transport9
4. Water Transport millions)

  • Flags of convenience

    • 46% of the ships and about 62% of the global tonnage (1998).

    • Regulation:

      • Under maritime law, the owner is bound to the rules and regulations of the country of registration.

    • Registry costs:

      • Registry costs are on average between 30 to 50% lower than those of North America and Western Europe.

    • Operating costs:

      • From 12 to 27% lower than traditional registry fleets.

      • Savings are coming from lower manning expenses.

      • Lower standards in terms of salary and benefits.