Intermodal transportation is often presented as an efficient solution for reducing carbon emissions without compromising economic growth. In this article, we present a new intermodal network design model in which both the terminal location and the allocation between direct truck transportation and intermodal transportation are optimized. This model allows for studying the dynamics of intermodal transportation solutions in the context of hinterland networks from a cost, carbon emissions and modal shift perspective. We show that maximizing the modal shift is harmful for both cost and carbon emissions and that there is a carbon optimal level of modal shift. We also show that even if transportation cost and carbon emissions share the same structure, these two objectives lead to different solutions and that the terminal is located closer to the port when optimizing cost and further away when optimizing carbon emissions. The model also allows for studying the tradeoff between distance and volume, the impact of using aggregated models for estimating train transportation cost and carbon emissions as well as the potential policy measures that enable aligning cost and carbon emissions.
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