Multimodal Transport

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Multimodal Transportation
in India, China, Australia, USA and Europe

Multimodal transportation is the movement of cargo from the point of origin to the final destination, by using two or more modes of transport. Multimodal transportation describes a shipment that takes several means of transportation – rail, road, ocean, air – from its point of departure to its point of destination.

The concept of international multimodal transport covers the door-to-door movement of goods under the responsibility of a single transport operator. It developed with the container revolution, initiated in the late 50's by Malcom McLean and his trucking operations. Possible multimodal combinations include rail-highway, ocean highway, rail-waterway, highway-waterway, pipeline-rail, and pipeline highway. Combinations of three modes are, of course, also possible. Air-highway combinations have proved successful and profitable. Also there is growing interest in developing air-highway-rail combinations.

The emergence of the container technology and of the multimodal transport concept facilitated growing international trade. Trade and transport are inextricably linked: efficient transport services are a prerequisite to successful trading. International transport generally implies the use of various transport links (interfaces and modes), each link corresponding to a transfer, storage or transport operation either in the country of origin, in a transit country, or in the country of final destination. This situation has created a number of problems over the years, as more and more shippers are realizing that this new concept is involving the effective participation of various transport mode operators but does not always make clear who is responsible for delivering cargo at destination in safe conditions, according to agreed schedules. Considering the variety of cultures, languages and commercial practices at both ends of a trade, and the resulting complexity of assembling such an international transport operation, it would appear reasonable to a trader to let one qualified operator organize and be responsible and accountable for the entire transport chain. Beginning from the present unimodal transport conditions and legal environment, transport operators have developed transport systems to fulfill customers' requirements, offering competitive services and thereby making trade more efficient by offering multimodal transport services to their clients. Since the introduction of containerization and the later development of EDI, international trade has increasingly demanded efficient commercial transactions. To take advantage of the potential offered by the new technologies, the international trading community updated its uniform commercial practices regarding trading terms, letters of credit, and multimodal transport documents. Multimodal transport implies the safe and efficient movement of goods, where the MTO accepts the corresponding responsibility from door-to-door. With technological development of transport means and operations, as well as in communications, coupled with liberalization in the provision of services, more and more transport operators are able to provide such safe and efficient transport. These services are increasingly market-segment oriented rather than transport mode oriented. The absence of international rules governing the successive carriage of goods resulted in peculiar problems in the matter of carriers' responsibility and the liability for loss of or damage to the goods occurring in the course of a multimodal transport operation.

When preparing to ship a product overseas, the new exporter must be sure to follow all shipping requirements to help ensure that the merchandise is • packed correctly so that it arrives in good condition; • labeled correctly to ensure that the goods are handled properly and...
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