What Is Multimodal Transport?

December 29, 2021

Multimodal transport combines two or more methods of transportation, or “modes.” Each mode of transportation–over air, sea, and land–has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Rather than depend on one method, multimodal shipping uses two or more.

The main benefit is efficiency. Multimodal logistics reduce transport costs while optimizing lead times and reducing inventories. By combining various modes of transportation, carriers like Carlile Transportation can optimize the cost of shipping, and reduce the risks of delay. That saves our customers both time and money.

What are the Benefits of Multimodal Transport?


By utilizing multiple methods of transport, like trucks, planes, ships and barges the costs can be more precisely controlled to match the customer expectations for timeline of transit.


When using more than one mode of transportation, a shipper can move goods more efficiently. This efficiency leads to a reduction in reliance on one method over another. Alaska is a challenging state due to its size and the weather conditions. These weather conditions can cause delays in sailings, air cargo and truck deliveries. Multimodal logistics provides solutions to combat things, like the weather, outside of a shipper’s control. Choosing multimodal transportation helps ensure timely delivery and reduces the risk of delays.


Carlile Transportation has the entire array of transportation modes available to them–they do not have to hope that the railways go to a destination or worry about the distance to the closest airport. The logistical choices open to the shipper allow them to make the best decisions for the needs of their customers and are not limited by geography. Choosing multimodal transportation is also a great option for complex shipments. Moreover, it allows for greater flexibility and reduces travel time.

How Does Multimodal Shipping Compare to Single Carrier Shipping?

When compared to single carrier shipping, multimodal transportation offers a well-rounded solution for most companies. You don’t have to negotiate with multiple carriers. Instead, you can work with a single provider for all your shipping needs which simplifies the communication process.

Multimodal logistics offers more transportation solutions, shipping flexibility and on-time cargo delivery. An item may be shipped from Tacoma to Seward, placed on a train to Anchorage, trucked to the airport where it is then flown into a small village in rural Alaska – this is an example of multimodal transportation.

What are the Challenges of Multimodal Transportation in Alaska?

Alaska is known for its rugged terrain and beautiful wilderness and is home to some of the most remote communities in the nation.  It’s also home to 149 cities, 9 ports, and hundreds of airports both private and public. Connecting many of those logistical hubs is a well-maintained network of rail lines and roads. Put together, all of these modes and methods of transport make shipping to Alaska a process that not just benefits from multimodal logistics but, in most cases, demands it.

The shipping experts at Carlile use multimodal transport options whenever the situation demands it. As a leading provider of cargo transport in Alaska, Carlile Transportation, gets your goods where they need to be. Contact us today.