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See below a mode comparison matrix for different modes.


Road

Rail

Sea/Riverway

Air

Relative Speed

Moderate

Moderate

Slow

Very High

Reliability

Good

Good

Limited

Very good

Cost per kg

Medium

Low/Medium

Low/Very Low

High

Flexibility

High

Low

Low

Medium

Other Considerations

Extensive Network

Limited and fixed infrastructure

Restricted Network

Limited Network

Short and medium distances from neighbouring country to operation site; internal transport for short and medium distances

Large consignments from port of discharge to inland operation site; ecological

Large quantities; less urgent; pre positioning phase; long distances with no time constraint

Emergency phase; expensive goods; fragile or perishable goods; cold chain; no alternative option; small shipments; e.g. diplomatic pouches; long distance with time constraint.

Advantages

Relatively fast; no transshipment; direct delivery; flexible; cost

Economical; large loading capacity; range and speed (context depending)

Economical; large loading capacity; no restriction on loading capacity; cheap

Fast; reliable; limited losses; direct; easy tracking and tracing

Disadvantages

Roads may be dangerous or blocked; sometimes driver nationality or vehicle registration not acceptable

Difficulty finding freight cars; frequent delays; transshipping required; inflexible; limited tracking

Slow; transshipping at ports; use as a second means of transport at high volumes; higher theft risk in ports; not flexible

Expensive; restricted to journey’s between airports; restricted loading capacity; special considerations (dangerous goods, size limits, packing, etc.)

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