Benefits and Importance of Designing an Optimal Intermodal Corridor in Colombia

Benefits and Importance of Designing an Optimal Intermodal Corridor in Colombia


Linda Ellin Ivarsson, Jacobs


Colombia is one of the most expensive countries for import and export of goods. High logistics costs reduce competitiveness. A new model has been developed to solve this problem, incorporating elements that current models fail to represent.


Colombian freight transport has been characterized for its high dependency for road mode. According to the Global Competitiveness Report, prepared by the World Economic Forum in 2014, Colombia was ranked 104 among 144 in terms of their transportation infrastructure. Furthermore, the World Bank assessed that Colombia in 2014 dropped 33 places in the world ranking of logistics, ranking 97 out of 160 countries. As an example, countries such as Mexico and Peru will take approximately 12 days to export their goods (from factory to the port), however, in Colombia this process will take around 14 days. This high dependency in the road mode and the lack of good transport infrastructure makes the movement of containers extremely expensive.
In such a way, Colombia is one of the most expensive countries in terms of logistic cost to import and export goods. Sending a container from Cartagena (biggest port in Colombia) to Bogota can cost three times more than shipping it from any of the Colombian ports to Shanghai (Dinero, 2015). As a result, products cannot arrive with competitive prices to the markets, which affect enormously the productivity and competitiveness of the country.
Therefore, developing countries such as the case of Colombia are in the urgent need to increase their effort to implement more efficient ways to move their freight cargo around the country.
Abstract Submission
Linda Ivarsson
Developing countries have the responsibility to increase the efficiency of their hinterland haulage, as it increases the profits of freight forwarders, strengthen the competitiveness of deep-sea ports, reduce the negative externalities and provides benefits to the whole country from having better accessibility to input and output markets.
In this way, a key element to build an intermodal corridor is the localization of intermodal centres. These ought to play the most important role in a country logistical strategy. This matter much decides how the country succeeds or fails to fulfil the sales and marketing promise. Moreover, bad localization of intermodal centres can affect enormously the competitiveness of the whole country. Therefore, designing the proper intermodal centres for freight traffic activities in a country is a strategic issue that every country should plan appropriately.
Thus, a model has been built to design an intermodal corridor along one of the most important rivers in Colombia known as the Magdalena River. The intermodal corridor seeks to reduce the overall transportation cost by allowing each mode to be used for the portion of the trip to which it is more efficient and best suited.
There is overwhelming evidence that improving the supply chain could increase the GDP by nearly 5% and trade by 15% (World Economic Forum, 2013). Moreover, it can reduce the congestion and the burden on the overstressed Colombian infrastructure. Finally, intermodal transport reduces the energy consumption and reduces the negative externalities that road transport imposes, such as emissions of GHG and other pollutants.
The model seeks to address the big disadvantages of the current facility location models by representing in a more holistic and realistic way the impact on society. The model seeks to represent appropriately the real impact on society by optimizing the perspective of 4 different actors:
 The government that seeks to minimize the total costs of moving goods in the country.
 The terminal operator that seeks to minimize the intermodal centres investment and operational costs
 The carriers that want to increase their profits by minimize their transportation costs.
 The community that seeks to minimize the negative externalities, such as emissions.
In such a way, by finding the minimum cost for these 4 actors the total cost of moving goods around the network in the country is minimized.
Thus, a novel metaheuristic optimization model based on the natural evolution process has been developed to optimize the goals of the 4 different actors. The model takes into consideration important logistical elements of the assignment of containers that current models don’t take into consideration such as shipment size, route capacities for truck and barge, container rental, inventory costs, intermodal centres capacities and loading/unloading costs. This model has been used to design the new optimal intermodal network along the Magdalena River.


Association for European Transport