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Differences between Intermodal and Multimodal

Differences between Intermodal and Multimodal

A question that people ask a lot is, what is the difference between Intermodal Transport and Multimodal Transport. On this question there are many contradictions and different answers, but for me the difference is clear and I will explain it:

Intermodal Transport

It is that transport in which different modes of transport come into play, such as road and rail or road and ship, in which what changes is the means of transport, but the goods are not handled and makes the entire journey in the same "container", "swap body", "P400 semi-trailer" or "normal semi-trailer", in which the goods have been loaded in the sender's company.

Multimodal transport

In Multimodal transport, on the other hand, in addition to changing transport mode (road, rail, air, sea or river transport), the goods change from semi-trailer to train or from semi-trailer to ship,...... i.e., it is loaded at the shipper's house on a semi-trailer and upon arrival at the train, the goods are transshipped to the wagon or the ship's hold,...... and once at the railroad destination station or port of destination, they are transferred back to a semi-trailer to be taken to the destination company.

The advantages of Intermodal Transport over Multimodal Transport is that the goods are only handled twice, when loading them at the sending company and when unloading them at the receiving company. In Multimodal Transport, on the otherhand, it is handled 4 times.

Another advantage of Intermodal Transport is that the goods travel with the initial CMR, from origin to destination, then if there is a booking of the train or ship reservation, and the entries and exits of the terminals, but the goods only carry the CMR as proof.

However in the Multimodal, 3 transport documents are made, because each one begins and ends when changing means of transport. That is to say, an initial CMR for the truck that takes the goods from the factory to the ship or train, which ends when the goods are placed in the ship's hold or in the wagon, another document, the Bill of Lading for the ship crossing or the Railway Bill of Lading (CIM) for the train journey and a third CMR document for the last truck journey from the train or ship to the consignee's factory.

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