Intermodal containers, as differentiated from piggyback trailers, have proved highly useful in international trade, primarily because they eliminate the reloading of cargo at each intermodal connection and the attendant delay, cost, damage, and opportunity for pilferage. However, physical constraints make containers less-economic transportation units per se than the individual modes that they replace-- truck trailer, rail boxcar, break-bulk ship, etc. When standard intermodal containers are included in the U.S. domestic freight transportation system, their operating shortcomings outweigh any theoretical advantages that may accrue to either shippers or carriers. Such shortcomings include relatively high tare weights, limited cubic capacities, and requirements for sophisticated loading and transfer equipment. Proposals to develop and adopt a form of domestic container raise the same questions of standardization, interchangeability, and retrieval that plagued the international container industry in its early years. Further, the proposal raises the yet more-serious question of the rationality of allocating resources to develop a separate series of domestic containers that could not be interchanged with the existing fleet of more than 1.1 million international containers, with an estimated replacement value (including interface equipment) of $12.0 billion. This paper discusses the domestic operational restraints inherent in the use of international standardized containers and applies these to similar problems that might be anticipated for a variety of different domestic containers. (Author)

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 72-74
  • Monograph Title: Surface Freight: Rail, Truck, and Intermodal
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00325468
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309030730
  • Report/Paper Numbers: N763
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 18 1981 12:00AM