A carrier’s perspective on container network configuration at sea and on land

Theo E. Notteboom *
Author Information & Copyright
1University of Antwerp
*Corresponding author: Port Economist, Institute of Transport and Maritime Management Antwerp (ITMMA), University of Antwerp, Keizerstraat 64, 2000 Antwerp (Belgium), Tel: +32 3 275.51.49, fax: +32 3 275.51.50, E-mail: Website:

© Copyright 2004 Jungseok Research Institute of International Logistics and Trade. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jun 30, 2004


This paper deals with network configurations in liner shipping and inland transportation from a carrier’s perspective. The cost efficiency of different possible network configurations in the foreland-hinterland continuum is discussed based on a cost model and on a qualitative analysis. It is demonstrated that the tendency towards cargo concentration in a limited number of ports has led to the redesign of collection and distribution networks in the hinterland. Further cargo bundling in the foreland-hinterland continuum towards even fewer ports and inland centres is only interesting from a cost perspective if considerable economies of scale and density can be realised in the associated hinterland networks. The more cost efficient the network becomes, the less convenient that network could be for the shippers’ needs in terms of frequency and flexibility. As such, the future configuration of liner shipping networks and inland transport networks will largely depend on the balance of power between carriers and shippers.

Keywords: Containerisation; Liner Shipping; Hinterland Transport; Network Configuration