The main handicap for rail and waterways, however, is that these modes of transport must be linked to roads to provide final connectivity to ports, industries or ultimate customers. Therefore in order to leverage large infrastructure investments, it is necessary to have strategically placed transshipment hubs or multimodal stations that allow for multimodal logistics – combining rail, water and road.
Such facilities concentrate critical logistics operations, such as transfer of cargo between modes of transportation, preliminary processing and packaging, consolidation of cargo, and freight storage, all in a single location, thereby taking advantage of economies of scale. However, how are we to efficiently determine the strategic location of these exchanges?
These locations are often chosen based on availability of land or at locations that may be advantageous for a particular mode. In reality, the ideal solution requires optimization of multiple criteria. And here, big data can become a great ally in tackling this challenge.