testata inforMARE

20 ottobre 2020 Il quotidiano on-line per gli operatori e gli utenti del trasporto 02:38 GMT+2

5. Special Agreements Between Large Carriers and Large Shippers

Other types of agreements are being established within the context of the above-mentioned tendencies currently characterizing intermodal transport, particularly in container transport: agreements between large companies, groups, consortia and alliances of carriers on the one hand, and "large shippers" on the other. The latter are shippers providing the company, group or consortium with substantial quantities of traffic, agreeing on prices, times and service procedures different from those of normal shippers.

This type of agreement is reminiscent of those used in the "captive transport" of the 1950s and 60s, for the transport of small and large goods in bulk, as well as for other products and cargoes, within the context of the requirements of industry (manufacturing industry, but also at times mining, electricity and gas). The so-called "captive transport" was, and is, based on special ships in technically integrated ship-shore equipment sequences modelled on the demands of the cargo transported and was defined using time charter contracts resembling (albeit inappropriate) forms of vertical integration of transport in industry.

While on this subject, it is interesting to note as part of the description of the changes underway in shipping markets at present that it was precisely the proliferation, and extension towards new channels of traffic, of these ship/special equipment ashore sequences (also including channels characterized by flows of cargo, ships and shore equipment of limited dimensions) which led to the revolution in intermodal transport of the mid-sixties as a reaction on the part both of the shipping lines - whose slice of the market was being progressively eroded - and of that trade still based on small consignments, which was confronted with transport costs which had become prohibitive.

Leaving this aside, it is easy to appreciate an important circumstance at this stage: namely, that as the range of services offered by the joint enterprises, consortia and alliances is upgraded and extended - in relation to geography, commodities, the composition of segments of intermodal cycles, and agreements between large shippers and large carriers - economies (of scale) based on diversification (economies of scope) are created. The additional services produced by the consortia and alliances can be offered at lower costs and prices than those which would be determined if there were not already, at an earlier stage in the process, a large quantity and variety of services produced: this is the principle of "sub additivity".


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