Intermodal freight transport: EU still far from getting freight off the road

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 8/2023, Number 8
Publication Date March 2023
ISBN 978-92-847-9636-6
ISSN 1977-5679
EC QJ-AB-23-007-EN-N
Content Type


Intermodal freight transport consists of transporting goods in a single loading unit (such as container) using a combination of modes of transport: road, rail, waterways or air. It can optimise the relative strengths of each transport mode in terms of flexibility, speed, costs and environmental performance. For the period 2014-2020, the total EU funding committed to projects supporting intermodality stood at around € 1.1 billion.

The Commission set targets at EU level for the increased use of rail and inland waterways. The targets were unrealistic and member states had own targets not aligned to them. Overall, we concluded that intermodal freight transport can still not compete on equal grounds with road transport due to regulatory and infrastructure barriers. We made a number of recommendations to increase the effectiveness of the EU support in the area.

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