Intermodality for external cost reduction

Very often forwarders consider the costs of a door-to-door logistics operation in terms of direct economic impact. Add up wages, fuel, customs fees, and all other expenses that one or the other part in the chain incurs directly, and the total cost is calculated.

But from a broader perspective, there are other hidden costs that sooner or later revert, either in the form of direct economic damage, possible decreases in turnover or tax costs, which at some point will have to be borne and will be passed on to the supply chain.

The explosive rise of logistics in the global economy has filled the roads with trucks. Millions of them move tons of goods every day. Both economic and social benefits of this are more than obvious, but there are no benefits without associated costs:


  • Economic costs associated with delays caused by congestion at ports, on roads and waterways. These translate into economic penalties. Similarly, wear and tear on infrastructure and accidents also have repercussions in the form of cost overruns.
  • Environmental costs, due to the use of fossil fuels, the carbon footprint of their manufacture, the energy costs of loading and unloading operations… all have an impact on the environment and, therefore, on the sustainability of the sector.
  • Finally, the social costs, which are measured in terms of public health and welfare. Noise and pollution are paradigmatic examples.


These consequences can be measured in economic costs, and this is done by EU bodies and the organizations involved in the supply chain themselves.


On the other hand, intelligent combination or intermodality is considered to be the most sustainable model and brings considerable benefits:


  • Time saving by minimizing storage times in intermediate areas.
  • Minimizes the risk of break or theft of goods, as they are transported in closed loading units from the origin to the destination point.
  • Reduces congestion on transport routes.
  • Improves road safety.
  • Reduced energy consumption per unit load, as well as minimized CO2 emissions.
  • Reduction of noise levels.
  • Reduction of waste in terms of packaging and packaging of goods.


A saving of almost 800 million euros

As an international port facility, the Port of Barcelona is a key player for importing and exporting companies. For this reason, its initiatives for intermodal transport with lower external costs are particularly important.

The Port of Barcelona is committed to intermodal transport, prioritizing rail transport and Short Sea Shipping. This initiative has led to a reduction in road transport of around 330,000 journeys and a saving of 778 million euros in external costs, according to figures published by the Port of Barcelona.


In line with EC standards

Of course, the European authorities have a strong interest in reducing these kinds of costs. This is expressed on this page: New transport proposals target greater efficiency and more sustainable travel, which outlines strategies to achieve a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient transport landscape.

The EC’s policy is to internalize external costs – the well-known “polluter pays” – and to develop alternative, more environmentally friendly means of transport.


Intermodality thanks to Short Sea Shipping (SSS)

How does Short Sea Shipping work? It takes the goods to the ports closest to the destination. The linking of local ports that Short Sea Shipping consists of is popularly known as the Motorways of the Sea. Ships, especially those powered by “clean” fuels such as LNG or methanol, are a highly energy-efficient and significantly fewer polluting means of transport. Their virtually door-to-door transport means a significant reduction in external costs.

Short Sea Shipping is made up of cabotage transport networks and maritime connections between continental and island ports.


Railways. The dry ports.

Another essential condition for efficient intermodality is the development of railways. In this respect, we are witnessing the rise of inland maritime terminals, better known as “dry ports”.

A dry port is an intermodal inland freight terminal. It is connected through the rail network and its particularity is that it has a frontier character. The wares travel directly from the ship to the dry port. And only there are customs controls carried out.

These terminals reduce time, mitigate environmental impact, and significantly improve the quality of the logistics operation, as they house all kinds of administrative facilities, including customs clearance.

Logistics 4.0 has many economic implications, but also in terms of social welfare and economy. This new stage will involve the digital transition of the freight forwarder, real-time tracking of goods or logistics traceability. But also, and to a large extent, intermodality and the commitment to Short Sea Shipping and rail transport.


eGlobe, your partner for integrated logistics solutions


At eGlobe we help you in all phases of the international transport of your goods.

Our positioning in the main ports of the state and our wide network of international correspondents allows us to offer a wide range of quality intermodal transport services.

Ask us for a non-obligation quote for your next operation.