Intermodal freight transport as a system includes such models as rail, ship, and truck transportation. The transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle does not involve any handling at the time when model changes. In Japan, this transportation has its own characteristics and peculiarities. This paper describes system of intermodal transportation in Japan and its main options and specifics. It also explains the positive impact of this system and how it is implemented in such an area as Japan.
To understand peculiarities of transport system in Japan, one needs to understand what is meant under the notion “intermodal freight transport”. “Intermodal transport indicates the use of at least two different modes of transport in an integrated manner in a door-to-door transport chain” (OECD, 2002). This transport is different in its connectivity of different types of transport models. This method reduces cargo handling and improves security of the freight. The most important point is low prices for intercontinental transportation and reduced gas emissions subsequently. Speaking about Japanese freight transport, one can say that the main models in this country remain railway, shipping, and road transportation, which dominate under transportation by plane. In 1950s – 1960s, the most share of freight where transported via railways. In 1980s - 1990s, the main freight transportations where made by roads and coastal shipping. Lower costs on truck services during the period from 1960s till 1980s made railway transportation less profitable and advantageous (Konings, 2008). Road and rail, being the most popular delivery system in Japan, started to grow and develop, as arrival points changed and urban areas covered the whole territory of the island. Such system cannot work without urban collection and distribution; that is why methods are usually combined only in areas with strong road and shipping system.
In the modern Japan, freight transport system is highly efficient and convenient. Schedule planning is the first thing that is needed for fast and qualitative transportation. In this country, the system works accurately with a high level of coordination. Intermodal freight terminals for trucks in urban areas are constructed in order to be accessible. Moreover, security system is strictly checked and organized. For international freight transport in Japan, the intermodal freight transport systems are very important in terms of the connectivity at seaports of maritime transport and road transport using containers (Konings, 2008). For example, large containers are often distributed by sea due to the possibility of a crash on the road and difficulties in transportation of the freight weight. Due to these circumstances, transport firms choose the most efficient way of transportation of a distinct product. Nevertheless, good coordination in urban areas requires distinct truck routes in order to make transportation more efficient and stable.
Good transport coordination and permanent research of the most comfortable ways of transportation in the one region lead to environmentally friendly systems that allow weight transporting to be fast and not very expensive. For example, long distance shipping is more popular than railroad and road transportation, and, on the other hand, tracking goods on small distances is the fastest way of delivery. That is why, intermodal transportation with a proper research and work reduces costs and gas emissions that have vast impact not only on economics but also on environment of a country.
To sum up, it should be said that intermodal freight transport in Japan is strictly controlled by professional services. Road and shipping are the most popular ways of transportation. Railroads and airplane transportation are less popular due to the better road infrastructure and comfortable shipping. Reduced costs and gas emissions made such transport system popular transport model that is changed and improved every day.