Since intermodal transportation is mostly the outcome of private initiatives seeking to capture market opportunities it remains to be seen to what extent public strategies can be reconciled with a global intermodal transport system which is flexible and footloose.
The intermodal terminals database is itself a component of the National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD) being developed and maintained by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S.
The extent to which the goal of a seamless, integrated intermodalfreight transportation system is ultimately achieved will greatly depend on how well these andother information and communications technologies are designed and implemented.
Using EDI and other computer and communicationstechnology, they greatly facilitate the process of billing, reporting, and tracking intermodalshipments.
Other third party companies involved in various aspects of intermodal transportationinclude air freight forwarders, air cargo agents and consolidators, non-vessel operating commoncarriers (NVOCCs), shippers' councils and cooperatives, shippers associations, transportationbrokers, perishable brokers, transloaders, distribution carriers, intermodal terminal operators,customs house brokers, export management companies, insurance carriers, and third-partylogistics firms [MULL95].
Other sources were identified by contacting government agencieswith interests in a particular commodity such as grain or coal or in some other aspect of freighttransportation, industry and trade organizations such as the AAR and the American Associationof Port Authorities (AAPA), railroad equipment suppliers such as the TTX Company, persons inthe railroad and trucking industries with experience in intermodalism, and researchers who haverecently examined some aspect of intermodal transportation.
If we were interested in routing the shipment of liquidbulk vegetable oils by barge and rail, we would not be able to connect the two networks at thisterminal, because it is not designed or equipped to handle the intermodal transfer of this type ofcommodity or cargo.
Intermodal connectors represent the time, space, equipment,and processes involved in transferring freight either directly or indirectly between two modes oftransportation.
Thus, allof the intermodal activity occurring at this terminal, which is served by three modes oftransportation and handles three different commodities, can be represented by four intermodalconnectors.
To reduce some of the complexity ofintermodal terminals and thereby aid in designing an intermodal terminals database, it is helpfulto abstract the key elements of intermodal terminals and their connections with the rest of thetransportation system.
Because the intermodal terminalsdatabase is a component of the much broader National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD),its design must be compatible with the NTAD's structure.
The chapter begins by describing a simpleconceptual model of intermodal freight terminals and how they are connected with the rest of thetransportation system.
In decidingwhat information to include and how to arrange it logically, consideration must be given to theintended uses of the intermodal terminals database, its connections with modal networkdatabases, and such practical issues as the availability of data or the ability to measure certainproperties or characteristics.
In the conceptual model of intermodal terminals presented earlier,intermodal connectors or transfer links are notional or artificial links whose purpose is torepresent the complex and often lengthy process of transferring cargo between two modes oftransportation.
What is needed is a logical database structure based on a conceptual model of intermodalterminals and their relationships with other elements of the transportation system.