Multi Modal Transport


Multi modal transport is the carriage of cargoes in containers by more than one mode of transport.

  • Containerisation involves consolidating mixed general cargoes into standardised containers.
  • Containerization an essential pre requisite for efficient multi modal transport.


  • Reduces overall physical distribution costs.
  • Quicker and safe transit.
  • Door to door service. Trader can import/export goods from nearby Inland Container Dept(ICD)/Container Freight Station(CFS) without going to sea ports.
  • Easy packaging.
  • Reduce cost in packaging, insurance and documentation.
  • Easy tracking.
  • Easy handling by gantries, mobile cranes wit reduction in time.
  • A standard size flat car could move  all traffic of varying cargo size.
  • Better space utilization in ships.
  • Freight customer does not have to register a wagon or rake, he has just to order a given number of containers which is send to his premises for loading/unloading and are brought to freight terminals.
  • Cost involved in taking freight to goods shed and taking them to customer premises at the other end is avoided.

Sea Transport

  • Containerization has become essential in respect of international trades in general goods involving transportation by sea. Containerization has brought economic benefits to both ship owners and shippers by better use of vessels, shorter time in ports, reduced transit time for goods, greater reliability.
  • Capacity of ship or terminal or quantum of container traffic handled is generally measured in terms of 20 feet equivalent units(TEUs) of Containers.

Freight Terminals

  • An Inland Container Depot for import / export of cargo with customs clearance facility and customs duty payment.
  • Warehousing facilities.
  • Cargo stuffing / restuffing and moved as per customer instructions.
  • Road/Rail/air transport connectivity.
  • Facilities to store refrigerated cargo.
  • Bank.
  • Fax, Telex, Telephone, Internet connectivity.
  • Continuous cargo tracking.

In this new scenario erstwhile Marshalling Yard function as:

  • Providing suitable rail substitute for road.
  • Serving large production units like Steel, plants and refineries.
  • Major customers like thermal powerhouse, fertilizer plants, cement plants ensuring availability of inputs and clearance of outward cargo.
  • Carriage and Wagon depots for Rolling Stock.
  • Crew and loco changing points.
  • Inland Container Depots of CONCOR.
  • Transition from conventional Goods Shed and Marshalling Yards to freight terminals have equipped Railways to win back traffic from road to rail-cum-road system which reduces cost of transport and economy paving way for sustainable development.
  • Future role of Railway Yards will be that of a Logistics park, shift towards a logistic provider from that of a transporter.


  • Container Corporation of India(CONCOR) was set up in 1988 as a subsidiary of Indian Railways for the operation and management of inter modal terminal facilities. 
  • First Inland Container Depot(ICD) was set up in Bangalore in 1981 followed by a number of ICDs across the length and breadth of the country.
  • .All the ICDs were transferred subsequently to CONCOR.
  • These ICDs will be supported and fed by Container Freight Stations(CFS) located within a radius of 350 km from each ICD.
  • CONCOR got registered as a Multi modal operator and its activities are expanding very fast.
  • CONCOR also has bonded warehousing facilities.
  • It has also pioneered transport of Tank containers for POL traffic.

Steps for Future development of Multimodal Transport

  • Increase port facilities.
  • Setting up of more ICDs/CFS with adequate facilities for reception/dispatch of freight liners, mechanized loading/unloading facilities for containers, adequate warehousing, expeditious customs check and documentation.
  • Adequate rail transport between ports and ICDs. These should include running of freight liners on scheduled paths and also land bridging between ports.
  • Improving roads for moving ISO containers.
  • Acquiring cellular container ships by Shipping Corporation of India.
  • Developing Inland Waterways.Developing computerized information system to keep track on movement of containers so as to enable efficient monitoring of same.
  • Accepting ICC recognized trading terms, Combined transport documents, uniform customs practices.
  • Development of adequate number of Multi modal transport operators.

Concession agreement with Container Train operators.

  • For increasing Railways share of Container traffic IR has eneterd agreement with Container Train operators.
  • The operators can ask Railway Administrations to haul container trains on IR network subject to concessionaire establishing/ ensuring access to Railway terminals and acquiring minimum number of wagons including Brakevans(BV) to form a Block rake.
  • Concessionaire shall have right to
  1. Collecting, storing and loading on to wagons consignment of goods from any third party
  2. Determine, collect charges from consignors.
  3. Access to rail terminals and develop rail terminals including ICDs.
  4. Procure, own/lease wagons & containers.
  • Concessionaire will be responsible for laoding/unloading at both origin and destination Rail terminals.
  • Railway Administration shall haul concessionaire’s trains on payment of prescribed charges.
  • Rail terminals used by concessionaire shall have facilities to (i) handling trains with locos in conformity with siding rules. (ii) RDSO approved in-motion weigh bridge. (iii) TMS and other facilities to enter data into FOIS.
  • If concessionaire’s wagons are lying idle it may be offered to Railway Administration for use.
  • Wagons shall be maintained by Railway Administration including ROH (Routine overhauling) and POH(periodical overhauling) on charges which includes haulage charges also.
  • If wagons are maintained by concessionaire, Railway administration does the inspection and certify.
  • At least 4 hours prior to the planned departure concessionaire has to give indent for loco.
  • Concessionaire has to give weekly advance schedule mentioning number of trains, destination, route, departure dates.
  • Diversions will be permitted as per existing rules.
  • Haulage charges will have to be paid by concessionaire.