Intermodal Truck Accident Lawyer Reshard Alexander
Intermodal Truck Accident Lawyer Reshard Alexander
Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation(e.g., rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. Reduced costs over road trucking is the key benefit for inter-continental use. This may be offset by reduced timings for road transport over shorter distances.
Intermodal transportation goes back to the 18th century and predates the railways. Some of the earliest containers were those used for shipping coal on the Bridgewater Canal in England in the 1780s. Coal containers (called “loose boxes” or “tubs”) were soon deployed on the early canals and railways and were used for road/rail transfers (road at the time meaning horse drawn vehicles).
Wooden coal containers used on railways go back to the 1830s on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. In 1841, Isambard Kingdom Brunel introduced iron containers to move coal from the vale of Neath to Swansea Docks. By the outbreak of the First World War the Great Eastern Railway was using wooden containers to trans-ship passenger luggage between trains and sailings via the port of Harwich.
The early 1900s saw the first adoption of covered containers, primarily for the movement of furniture and intermodal freight between road and rail. A lack of standards limited the value of this service and this in turn drove standardization. In the U.S. such containers, known as “lift vans”, were in use from as early as 1911.
In the United Kingdom containers were first standardized by the Railway Clearing House (RCH) in the 1920s, allowing both railway owned and privately owned vehicles to be carried on standard container flats. By modern standards these containers were small, being 1.5 or 3.0 meters (4.9 or 9.8 ft) long, normally wooden and with a curved roof and insufficient strength for stacking. From 1928 the London, Midland and Scottish Railway offered “door to door” intermodal road-rail services using these containers. This standard failed to become popular outside the United Kingdom.
Pallets made their first major appearance during World War II, when the United States military assembled freight on pallets, allowing fast transfer between warehouses, trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft. Because no freight handling was required, fewer personnel were needed and loading times were decreased.
Truck trailers were first carried by railway before World War II, an arrangement often called “piggyback”, by the small Class I railroad, the Chicago Great Western in 1936. The Canadian Pacific Railway was a pioneer in piggyback transport, becoming the first major North American railway to introduce the service in 1952. In the United Kingdom, the big four railway companies offered services using standard RCH containers that could be craned on and off the back of trucks. Moving companies such as Pickfords offered private services in the same way.
In the 1950s, a new standardized steel Intermodal container based on specifications from the United States Department of Defense began to revolutionize freight transportation. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) then issued standards based upon the U.S. Department of Defense standards between 1968 and 1970.
The White Pass and Yukon Route railway acquired the world’s first container ship, the Clifford J. Rogers, built in 1955, and introduced containers to its railway in 1956. In the United Kingdom, the modernisation plan and in turn the Beeching Report strongly pushed containerization. The British Railways freightliner service was launched carrying 8-foot (2.4 m) high pre-ISO containers. The older wooden containers and the pre-ISO containers were rapidly replaced by 10-and-20-foot (3.0 and 6.1 m) ISO standard containers, and later by 40-foot (12 m) containers and larger.
In the U.S., starting in the 1960s, the use of containers increased steadily. Rail intermodal traffic tripled between 1980 and 2002, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), from 3.1 million trailers and containers to 9.3 million. Large investments were made in intermodal freight projects. An example was the USD $740,000,000 Port of Oakland intermodal rail facility begun in the late 1980s.
Since 1984, a mechanism for intermodal shipping known as double-stack rail transport has become increasingly common. Rising to the rate of nearly 70% of the United States’ intermodal shipments, it transports more than one million containers per year. The double-stack rail cars design significantly reduces damage in transit and provides greater cargo security by cradling the lower containers so their doors cannot be opened. A succession of large, new, domestic container sizes was introduced to increase shipping productivity. In Europe, the more restricted loading gauge has limited the adoption of double-stack cars. However, in 2007 the Betuweroute was completed, a railway from Rotterdam to the German industrial heartland, which may accommodate double-stacked containers in the future. Other countries, like New Zealand, have numerous low tunnels and bridges that limit expansion for economic reasons.
Since electrification generally predated double-stacking, the overhead wiring was too low to accommodate it. However, India is building some freight-only corridors with the overhead wiring at 7.45 m above rail, which is high enough.
Containers and container handling
Containers, also known as intermodal containers or ISO containers because the dimensions have been defined by ISO, are the main type of equipment used in intermodal transport, particularly when one of the modes of transportation is by ship. Containers are 8-foot (2.4 m) wide by 8-foot (2.4 m) or 9-foot-6-inch (2.90 m) high. Since introduction, there have been moves to adopt other heights, such as 10-foot-6-inch (3.20 m). The most common lengths are 20 feet (6.1 m), 40 feet (12 m), 45 feet (14 m), 48 and 53 feet (15 and 16 m), although other lengths exist. The three common sizes are:
- one TEU – 20-by-8-foot (6.1 m × 2.4 m) x 8-foot-6-inch (2.59 m)
- two TEU – 40-by-8-foot (12.2 m × 2.4 m) x 8-foot-6-inch (2.59 m)
- highcube−40-by-8-foot (−12.2 m × 2.4 m) x 9-foot-6-inch (2.90 m).
In countries where the railway loading gauge is sufficient, truck trailers are often carried by rail. Variations exist, including open-topped versions covered by a fabric curtain are used to transport larger loads. A container called a tanktainer, with a tank inside a standard container frame, carries liquids. Refrigerated containers (reefer) are used for perishables. Swap body units have the same bottom corners as intermodal containers but are not strong enough to be stacked. They have folding legs under their frame and can be moved between trucks without using a crane.
Handling equipment can be designed with intermodality in mind, assisting with transferring containers between rail, road and sea. These can include:
- container gantry crane for transferring containers from seagoing vessels onto either trucks or rail wagons. A spreader beam moves in several directions allowing accurate positioning of the cargo. A container crane is mounted on rails moving parallel to the ship’s side, with a large boom spanning the distance between the ship’s cargo hold and the quay.
- Straddle carriers, and the larger rubber tyred gantry crane are able to straddle container stacks as well as rail and road vehicles, allowing for quick transfer of containers.
- Grappler lift, which is very similar to a straddle carrier except it grips the bottom of a container rather than the top.
- Reach stackers are fitted with lifting arms as well as spreader beams for lifting containers to truck or rail and can stack containers on top of each other.
- Sidelifters are a road-going truck or semi-trailer with cranes fitted at each end to hoist and transport containers in small yards or over longer distances.
- Forklift trucks in larger sizes are often used to load containers to/from truck and rail.
- Flatbed trucks with special chain assemblies such as QuickLoadz can pull containers onto or off of the bed using the corner castings.
Load Securing in Intermodal Containers
According to the European Commission Transportation Department “it has been estimated that up to 25% of accidents involving trucks can be attributable to inadequate cargo securing”. Cargo that is improperly secured can cause severe accidents and lead to the loss of cargo, the loss of lives, the loss of vehicles, ships and airplane; not to mention the environmental hazards it can cause. There are many different ways and materials available to stabilize and secure cargo in containers used in the various modes of transportation. Conventional Load Securing methods and materials such as steel banding and wood blocking & bracing have been around for decades and are still widely used. In the last few years the use of several, relatively new and unknown Load Securing methods have become available through innovation and technological advancement including polyester strapping and -lashing, synthetic webbings and Dunnage Bags, also known as air bags.
Trucking is frequently used to connect the “linehaul” ocean and rail segments of a global intermodal freight movement. This specialized trucking that runs between ocean ports, rail terminals, and inland shipping docks, is often called drayage, and is typically provided by dedicated drayage companies or by the railroads.
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