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International Forwarding Association Blog » Intermodal transport in Europe » Intermodal Logistics Helps Safely Ship Cargo during a Coronavirus Pandemic

Intermodal Logistics Helps Safely Ship Cargo during a Coronavirus Pandemic

Intermodal logistics or the use of combined transport to ship cargo is especially important during the coronavirus outbreak. According to experts, it is one of the safest modes of transportation. This is because cargo is shipped by freight trains over long distances and then shipped by trucks over short distances. Rail transport can be used to ship medical equipment and supplies, food, household goods, and other types of cargo.

Why Use Intermodal Transport

One of the main benefits of using intermodal transport is that freight trains have the capacity to ship large quantities of goods across Europe. Controlled and fixed routes will be used to protect the health of train staff that will also be easily controlled. Cargo trains will also need more limited personnel to operate.

A letter by cargo associations in Italy notes that twenty pairs of trains running daily will only need 60 crew members. In contrast, the same amount of cargo can be shipped by 800 truck drivers. The letter emphasizes that rail transport is an essential component of intermodal transport in Europe, and any blockade should not be allowed.


Touchless Terminals, Seamless Collection, and other Measures

Different countries across Europe have implemented measures to enable social distancing. Touchless terminals are already under development in Italy to help limit physical contact. The Busto Arsizio-Gallante terminal, which is found at a short driving distance to Milan, asks drivers to stay in trucks as much as possible.

Most of the required documents have also been digitized to protect drivers and personnel. Document reception points are now equipped with glazing. When documents are exchanged, no more than 3 persons can be in one room at the same time. Customers are now able to collect goods seamlessly. Restrictions have also been imposed at other terminals, including Pordenone and Piacenza.

In Russia, the state-owned train operator has already established a procedure for remote interaction to enable social distancing. The contracts between private railway owners and cargo owners have been extended by 3 months. The documents required for unloading and loading operations have also been extended. Trains are no longer required to carry illustrated diagrams that are showing wagon layout. This holds for cargo shipped in covered wagons as well as wagons carrying cereals such as buckwheat.

Centre of Corporate Transportation Services Director-General Alexey Shilo pointed to the fact that the new certifications for cargo owners involved in unloading and loading as well as new cargo schemes and their remote coordination help improve transparency and quality of services. The same holds for email and electronic document processing. These measures help limit contact and thus reduce the risk of infection.

According to the Russian Railways, more and more customers choose to use electronic document management. In fact, since March, over 4.5 million documents have been submitted online, which makes for some ¾ of all documents. Electronic document processing helps minimize interaction with railway personnel and other shippers.