Freight transportation systems play a very central role in the economy. According to Holguin-Veras, Paaswell and Perl (2008), cargo worth $6.9 trillion was transported in 1999. The also observed that one out of ten jobs in the U.S. economy are under or related to transportation. Therefore, there is a need to understand how these systems or networks of freight are structured and modeled. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) coordinates various agencies that deal with different modes of transport including the railways, the ships and trucks. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the highly fund U.S. mode of transport. In the freight transportation structure, the other component is the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that manages roads and railway lines. All the components have other agencies affiliated to them including technology and research units. More importantly, in conjunction with the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics is the core repository of all freight data (Konnings, Priemus, & Nijkamp, 2008). This includes even the data from American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). However, although the government has tried its level best to coordinate transportation, the private sector always feels shortchanged because while the government is for the provision of services, the private sector is for profits.

How innovation has contributed to the global intermodal network

Due to the very nature of freight transportation, there has been immense need to come up with new ways of handling the ever-increasing cargo, health issues, security issues and environmental concerns. The main aspects of innovation are evident in technological component of freight transportation. Specifically, automation has continued to play a key role in easing the flow of cargo. This has been implemented in the major entry and exit points as well as in the field of information systems. Further, immense innovation has been seen in the U.S. which is know for its largest rail transport network in the world covering about 128,000 miles and an efficient road network. There has also been a lot of innovation in terms of how the stakeholders move forward to solve the challenges that they are faced with. For instance, there have been enhanced public-private partnerships, new methods of freight research and political empowerment of the agencies participating in the industry. According to Holguin-Veras, Paaswell and Perl (2008), there have been mild international intermodal policies as seen in the context of Netherlands and Singapore.

The role of government in fostering intermodal transport innovations

The government has continued to play a facilitating role in terms of a favorable policy environment (Holguin-Veras, Paaswell & Perl, 2008). For instance, there was notable cooperation between the State and Federal governments during the construction of the America’s national highway network. In addition, the government has a key mandate to fulfill in providing for an efficient transportation system for its citizens. Government has also sponsored research into various freight fields in which universities and the private sector have been highly involved. The government authorities, although have not been very fruitful, have attempted to introduce methods of passenger transportation in different modes without having to offload their luggage or cargo.

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