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You will find set out below an alphabetical list of frequently used terminology in Combined Transport.

Pick-up time

The pick-up time is the earliest time at which the loading unit can be collected from the receiving terminal together with the shipping documents. Any waiting times will depend on the situation in the terminal (e.g. several customers may want to collect loading units at the same time).

Closing time for acceptance

The closing time for acceptance is the time that the last loading unit for a specific train is accepted by the local Kombiverkehr agency. The closing time for acceptance is published in the Kombiverkehr timetable. The loading unit is accepted once both contracting parties have signed the shipping order form and the forwarding contract comes into effect.

Satellite service

Satellite transport is a specific form of onward transport. The crucial difference to gateway transport is the fact that the wagons are rerouted to the direct train terminal along with their consignments of loading units, whereas loading units handled via gateway services are transhipped between trains. This definition makes it clear that the trains used for satellite services cannot be shuttle trains.

Accompanied combined transport

See „Rolling Road"


The driver must check in before entering the terminal. Check-in staff will inspect the loading unit to ensure that it meets all the technical requirements for rail transport. The hazardous goods markings are also noted on the check-in form here. The driver receives a copy of the check-in form.

Direct train

Direct trains are used on routes with routinely high volumes of consignments to provide a direct link between two or more terminals. Direct trains are typically characterised by fast journey times with minimal stops for shunting operations. Ideally, direct trains are operated on shuttle services.

Single-wagon transport

Single-wagon services are provided on routes where the operation of a shuttle train is not (yet) efficient due to the low volume of transport. Loading units are only transported as and when capacity is available. It is not possible to specify the journey times of individual trains, as the amount of shunting varies greatly from train to train. Restrictions are common on single-wagon services in relation to the possible profile height and the types of loading units to be transported (e.g. no semi-trailers).

Block train

The term “block train” is used in commercial parlance. It is a direct train of a defined maximum length and capacity on a specific route. The company that buys and markets the block train bears the risk in terms of capacity utilisation.


Gateways are terminals where, besides road-rail transhipment, it is also possible to switch loading units between trains (rail-rail transhipment). The secondary gateway system guarantees optimum links between the national and international train systems and facilitates the gradual integration of single-wagon services by transferring them into the existing direct train systems.

Weight advantage: 44-tonne regulation

Vehicles that are used on the first and final leg to the nearest suitable Combined Transport terminal may have an overall weight of 44 tonnes, which is 4 tonnes more than vehicles used for road-only transport.

Piggyback transport

Piggyback Transport is a description of an earlier version of Combined Transport that was mainly used to define the scope of container transport. It is a type of Combined Transport in which goods vehicles, tractor-trailers or semi-trailers are loaded onto special railway wagons. Generally speaking, the term “Piggyback Transport” is no longer in use today. It does continue to be used in individual publications, however, including legislation relating to hazardous goods.

Intermodal Transport

The term Intermodal Transport is often used synonymously with Combined Transport.

Code number plate

Yellow code number plates are not only used to indicate official authorisation, they also facilitate the correct allocation of loading units and wagons during routine terminal operations.

Combined Transport

Combined Transport (CT) is the generic term for freight transport in which loading units (swap bodies, containers, semi-trailers and complete lorries) are conveyed over the entire distance by at least two different modes of transport. In contrast to “broken” services, in which the actual goods are reloaded, the complete loading units are switched from one mode of transport to another in the chain of Combined Transport.

In principle, chains of Combined Transport can be composed of all modes of transport. Commonly used modes of transport are the railways, barges, container ships in overseas shipping, roll-on/roll-off ships and trucks for the initial and final legs by road. The transport chain may comprise two modes of transport, e.g. road-rail, or more than two, e.g. sea-waterway-road.

A distinct feature of road-rail Combined Transport is the way in which it merges the benefits of two transport systems: the mass capacity of the railway, which makes it ideal for bridging long distances, allied with the flexibility of the truck, which is unbeatable for short and medium journeys to collect and distribute freight. In principle, Combined Transport is suitable for carrying all the types of freight that are transported over long distances by road. The following pages of this Knowledge Base take an in-depth look at the combination of truck and train, in other words road-rail Combined Transport.

Loading units for Combined Transport

A wide variety of loading units are used for Combined Transport within Europe. Containers and swap bodies are the most commonly used loading units. The demand for cranable semi-trailers is steadily increasing at present. The Rolling Road, which is heavily used on transalpine services, means that goods vehicles and tractor-trailers can likewise be transported by rail.

Multimodal Transport

The term Multimodal Transport relates to “transport regulations”, as opposed to Combined Transport, which is used exclusively in the sense of “transport operations”. Multimodal Transport is defined as the conveyance of goods by various consecutive means of transport on the basis of a standardised transport contract (end-to-end freight forwarding contract) in order to achieve a standardised transport objective.

Accordingly, Combined Transport does not always have to be the same as Multimodal Transport from a legal standpoint.

Overnight services

The term “overnight service” is understood to mean the transport of loading units that are delivered to the departure terminal in the evening and are ready for collection at the receiving terminal the next morning.

Rolling road

Rolling Road trains are used to transport complete trucks by rail. The goods vehicles and tractor-trailers are driven onto low-loading wagons by the drivers, who accompany their vehicles in a couchette coupled to the train and use the journey time as a rest period. This type of transport is known as accompanied Combined Transport.

Shuttle train

Trains that shuttle between two or more terminals with a fixed wagon configuration.

 The latter does not need to be changed in the respective terminals, thus keeping the additional time spent on scheduling and handling to a minimum. It is also possible to plan train capacities and optimally adapt wagon sets to the loading unit structure of the relevant route. This means that shuttle trains are the most economical production system in Combined Transport.


The terminals, also known as transhipment stations, are the interfaces of Combined Transport. Their capacity dictates whether loading units are switched from rail to road and vice versa in line with customer and market requirements. Two types of cargo handling equipment are used to process the loading units: gantry cranes and mobile handling equipment.

Transhipment station

see „Terminal“

Unaccompanied Combined Transport

Unaccompanied transport is a type of Combined Transport in which the loading unit is transported by rail without a motor vehicle – in other words, just the swap body, container or semi-trailer.

Initial and final leg

This is understood to mean the transport of the loading unit by road from the loading point to the departure terminal and from the arrival terminal to the recipient. The initial and final leg is thus a vital link in the transport chain.