Land transportation, also known as ground transportation, refers to the movement of people or goods from one location to another on land. The most commonly used land transport vehicles are trains and trucks.

Whether it’s domestic trade or international trade with arrivals to the door or the port, land transportation is indispensable. It plays a crucial role in delivering our goods to their final destinations, offering an advantage that cannot be replaced by other modes of transportation.

Now, let me introduce several common types of land transportation. Understanding these will help you make better choices among various transportation methods.

What are types of land transport?

Land transport, in comparison to air and sea transportation, primarily includes railway transportation, road transportation, and pipeline transportation.

Railway Transport

Railway transport is a crucial method for long-distance land transport. Compared to road transportation, it is more cost-effective when moving large quantities of goods like energy, minerals, and agricultural products over extended distances.

Not only is it more affordable, but it also ensures the safety of the goods. Additionally, due to being on tracks, railway transportation boasts higher efficiency without the traffic congestion issues faced on roads, allowing for on-time deliveries to the destination.

However, it comes with its limitations. Railway transportation lacks flexibility and is susceptible to adverse weather conditions. In the event of significant rainfall or snowfall, the tracks may be blocked, resulting in train disruptions and potential delays in the transportation journey.

Road Transport

The typical vehicle used for road transport is a truck. Truck transport is highly flexible, capable of reaching the last mile of delivery. Even if the destination is a remote village, trucks can reach there or get as close as possible.

Moreover, for short-distance transport, highway transportation is a better choice. It provides direct point-to-point delivery right to the destination, unlike railways or ships, which require additional truck transport upon reaching the station or port.

However, when dealing with long-distance transport (such as over 500 kilometers), trucks face a higher risk of goods loss or damage due to the continuous and varied road conditions. The freight cost is also higher.

Additionally, due to the limited size of trucks, they are not suitable for transporting larger quantities, generally considered unsuitable for loads exceeding 15 tons. In such cases, you might want to consider railway or maritime transportation.

informationChoosing between less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) transportation is an important decision, whether it’s for road or rail transport. LTL transportation, in simple terms, involves combining your goods with others for shared shipping, while FTL means your goods occupy an entire container. The main impact of this choice is that the safety and timeliness of LTL transportation are not as high as FTL, as there are more unloading procedures involved. However, LTL transportation is considerably cheaper in terms of pricing.

Pipeline Transport

Pipeline transportation is a unique method mainly used for conveying natural gas, petroleum, and other liquid or gaseous energy resources. The longer the pipeline, the farther it can transport energy. However, it’s limited to following the pipeline route, lacking flexibility, and having a restricted range of destinations.

In general, pipeline transportation is cost-effective, ensuring timely and reliable delivery. Nevertheless, it can only transport specific gases or liquids, and the transportation routes are fixed. As a result, it’s not commonly used for transporting most goods in international trade.

What are advantages and disadvantages of land transport?


– Land transport services generally tend to be more expensive than shipping but cheaper than air freight, striking a balance between cost and speed.

– In terms of short-distance transport, land cargo transport can reach the destination faster than air and sea freight, because truck transport often allows for direct delivery without intermediate unloading procedures.

– Land transportation can reach almost any designated land location, not limited to ports or stations. Therefore, the final leg of any domestic or international trade often involves road transportation.


– If the distance is too long, land freight transport can become costly, at least much more expensive than sea freight. Therefore, in international trade, it’s common to deliver goods to the nearest port to reduce the land transportation distance.

– Land transportation primarily operates on the ground, making it susceptible to traffic congestion. During peak periods or crowded locations, truck transport may experience delays due to traffic jams.

– In areas with inadequate road infrastructure, such as remote villages lacking gas stations or highways, truck transport may also experience delays.

Among several modes of transport, how to choose?

In international transportation, whether goods need to be transported from the port to our warehouse or from the warehouse to a nearby port, land transportation is essential. When choosing a specific transportation method, you need to consider various factors such as weather, distance, budget, the volume and weight of the goods, the transport capacity of the vehicles, the type of goods, the requirements of the goods for the transportation environment, and your expectations regarding timeliness.

For example, if you need to transport a large batch of imported fruits from a port to a warehouse 1000 kilometers away, it’s best to choose full truck transportation with refrigeration, as fresh fruits don’t mix well with other items, especially agricultural products. During long-distance transport, this could accelerate the deterioration of the fruits. If cost-effectiveness is a priority, railway transportation might be preferable over trucks, as trains can balance speed, cost, and the safety of goods.

If you urgently need these goods, you’ll have to incur additional costs to expedite transportation, such as choosing air transport or paying an expedited fee for railway transport. You’ll need to weigh whether your transportation costs exceed the budget.

Of course, if you are transporting a batch of non-urgent minerals and want to save costs, waterway transport may be the better choice, as it is often 2 to 3 times cheaper than railway transport.

International Multimodal Transport and Intermodal Transport

In the entire international transportation process, we often use various modes of transportation, such as ships, airplanes, trains, trucks, etc. The transportation process may involve complex procedures.

International multimodal transport is a widely used form of transportation in many countries and regions worldwide. It requires the use of at least two different modes of transportation, with a single multimodal transport operator taking goods from one country to a specified location in another country. 

Common methods include sea-land transport, land-air transport, sea-land-air transport and more. The benefit is that the shipper and the operator only need to issue one bill of lading, saving a considerable amount of time as there is no need to go through new procedures every time a different mode of transport is used.

Land transportation is a crucial mode in international multimodal transport. When you want to import containerized goods from a country across the sea and transport them to your warehouse, you will likely use at least two modes of transportation, such as land and sea transport. If time savings are essential, opting for international multimodal transport is a good choice.

However, if you want to save transportation costs and don’t mind dealing with complex procedures, choosing general intermodal transport is sufficient. With intermodal transport, you have the freedom to choose carriers for each stage, helping to reduce costs.

The End

Hope this article can be helpful to you.

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