Investigating Synchromodality from a Supply Chain Perspective



Despite strenuous efforts by stakeholders to shift freight traffic from road to rail transport, the modal split has changed little over the past two decades. In this paper we argue that the difficulty of achieving a significant modal split is partly due to the failure to take a holistic view of the modal shift process. We propose the concept of “Synchromodality from a Supply Chain Perspective”, which extends modal shift from being a transport problem to a principle impacting more widely on firms’ supply chain decision-making. This concept is illustrated by a model to support firms’ modal split transport decisions. This model is a generalization of the classical tailored base-surge dual sourcing model, with the objective to minimize long run average costs per period including transport and inventory. We obtain the approximate closed-form solutions that enable to determine the split in cargo volumes between a fast but expensive transport mode (truck), and a slow but cheap transport mode (train). The results provide structural insights on the trade-off between transport cost savings and holding cost spending, and reveal a high utilization of the slow mode without compromising service levels.