The Space / Cost Dichotomy of Forelands and Hinterlands
Depending if space (distance) or cost is considered, the relative
importance of the hinterland significantly changes. For instance,
when international transport chains are considered (such as trade
between Asia and Europe or North America) the foreland distance
(maritime shipping) commonly account for 90% of the total distance
while the hinterland distance (rail, barge and truck combination)
account for the remaining 10%. From this perspective, the hinterland
appears to be a relatively marginal concern as the large share of
the distance is covered by maritime shipping.
However, from a cost perspective the relation is the opposite, thus
the dichotomy. Maritime shipping has achieved remarkable economies of
scale, underlining its ability to transport cargo over long
distances and at a low unit cost. Economies of scale are much more
difficult to achieve over the hinterland and as traffic increases,
transport networks near ports are getting increasingly congested.
Hinterland transportation accounts for a dominant share (about 80%)
of the transport cost while maritime shipping accounts for the
remaining 20%. Therefore, hinterland
transportation remains one of the most salient issues in long
distance freight distribution.