Modal Corridors
Corridors are multimodal entities as they represent the accumulation of transport infrastructures concerning several modes. Thus, within a regional corridor is an overlay of modal corridors, each having a market share depending on the basic geography of the region, the respective level of infrastructure investment and the types of flows involved (passengers or freight):
  • The maritime corridor is a set of non discrete paths (maritime routes) between regional maritime hub centers, which are places of transshipment and logistics. The summation of those functions implies a maritime / land interface where maritime corridors are connected to inland transportation systems, most of them also shaped as corridors. Considering that maritime corridors have almost an unlimited capacity, the capacity of maritime transportation is related to the transshipment capacity of ports. Maritime corridors are structured by the integration of port cities (maritime services and transshipment functions) to port systems (maritime distribution functions) forming a global trade network. Containerization has particularly impacted maritime corridors with the emergence of global axis of circulation. However, the growth in the size of ships tends to favor the concentration of traffic at large gateways.
  • The fluvial corridor corresponds to important waterways having access to port infrastructures and industrial regions. The fluvial corridor is an overlay of canals, waterways and fluvial ports along an axis corresponding to a natural penetration corridor like a major river or a set of interlinked coastal cities. Fluvial corridors are a mix of discrete and non discrete paths, depending if canals, rivers and seacoasts are considered individually. For many urban regions, the fluvial corridor is the main defining spatial structure. Containerization has enabled the development of new forms of fluvial shipping and enabled several ports (mostly in Western Europe and China) to service their hinterlands.
  • Land transportation is the foundation of a regional economy and provides a support to land movements through discrete paths. Land corridors can be divided in two modes having separate, but often integrated logistics; road and rail. Since land transportation infrastructures are the reflection of the territorial structure of a region, land corridors emerge between major hub centers. Rail corridors and highway systems have a strong spatial imprint in shaping corridors, a force that has been more recently reinforced by the setting of high speed rail systems.
  • Air corridors correspond to the navigation lanes of air traffic. Due to the distances concerned, regional air transportation tends to be of lesser importance with connections only involving the largest urban centers. Yet, the development of high frequency air shuttles is salient between large city pairs in relative proximity (300 kilometers or more).
An important component of modal corridors are articulation nodes, which regulate flows. Modal corridors interact with one another as some are directly competing while other are complimentary. For instance, in a specific region fluvial and land corridors could be competing for attracting freight traffic while road and rail could be complementary.