Transport system CT



What is Combined transport (ct)?


The term Combined Transport (CT) covers multi-modal transport chains in which the loading units are transferred between the different modes of transport, i.e. road, rail, inland waterway or sea. Combined Transport is a special form of intermodal transport and is defined as "intermodal transport in which the major part of the European journey is by rail, inland waterway or sea and any initial and/or final legs carried out by road are as short as possible".1


 Characteristics of CT

  • Intermodal transport chain
  • Standardized loading units (container, swap body, semi-trailer, complete truck
  • Transfer of cargo between different modes of transport (road, rail, inland waterway or sea)
  • Systematic facilitation of the change between different transport modes

Elements of CT

  • Bundling of (cargo) volumes in the main leg by means of mass transport (rail, inland or maritime vessel) over longer distances
  • First and last leg by truck over short(er) distances
  • Standardized loading unit remains unchanged
  • Transshipment terminals as interfaces between transport modes


Transport sections in CT


Combined Transport chains typically consist of the first leg (also called pre-haulage), main leg and last leg (also called post-haulage). The main leg hereby makes up the longest transport segment, which is covered by the different transport modes mentioned above.

One or more standardized loading units are loaded with transport goods at the source (shipper). The loading unit is then transported via truck to a transshipment point (source terminal) by a forwarder or carrier. The  first leg is completed at the terminal.


Transshipment of all delivered loading units takes place at the source terminal. In the context of the transport order, the respective loading units are loaded onto the main mode of transport or means of mass transport, rail or inland waterway. Subsequently, the main leg, i.e. the longest transport segment, to a specific destination is carried out using the appropriate mode of transport. In the destination terminal, the loading units are transshipped once again.

The loading units are then transported regionally by truck onward to their final destination (recipient), where the standardized loading is unloaded. The goods remain in the same loading unit from source to destination.


1 UN/ECE (2001), Terminologie des KV, Mitteilung der europäischen Kommission COM(97)243