It is a transport service offering more than one transport mode. Multimodalism is the process of operating/providing a door to door/warehouse to warehouse service to the shipper embracing two or more transport and involving merchandise being conveyed in a utilized form in the same unit form throughout the transit. It involves a scheduled/dedicated service. Forms of multimodal include containerization- Full container load (FCL), less than container load (LCL)/road/sea/rail; land bridge- trailer truck-road/sea/road; land air bridge etc. Multimodal is the concept of door to door movement of goods under the responsibility of a single transport operator known as multimodal operator (MTO) on one transport document.
The MTO contracts with the shipper to move goods and uses various channels from the origin to their final destinations. For example a VW car manufactured in Germany could be railed to the nearest inland waterway, from where it is ferried to the port of Hamburg, loaded on a ship and offloaded in Mombasa, loaded on to a truck and moved by road to the dealer in industrial area in Nairobi.
Multimodal is a chain that interconnects different links or modes of transport- air, sea, and landinto one complete process that ensures an efficient and cost-effective door to door transport. It converts the disjointed application of each mode of transport into a competitive industry known as the multimodal transport market. In a nutshell, multimodal transport is accepted in international trade as providing safe and efficient movement of goods where the MTO accepts full corresponding responsibility from door to door. With technological development of transport means and operations as well as in communications, coupled with liberalization in the provision of services, more and more transport operators are finding it sensible to operate as MTOs. MT services are increasingly becoming market- segment oriented rather than transport mode oriented.