A multimodal transport system integrates different geographical scales from the global to the local. With the development of new modal and intermodal infrastructure, urban regions have a growing accessibility to the international market; several parameters of regional transportation are transformed, or at least significantly modified. The above figure represents the regulation of movements of a corridor within a multimodal transportation system composed of a set of competing hub centers where converge regional and local transportation networks. Depending on the geographical scale being considered, the regulation of flows is coordinated at the local level by distribution centers, commonly composed of a single transport terminal, or at the global level by articulation points, composed of major transport terminals and related activities.
An articulation point can simultaneously have a modal and intermodal convergence of functions; particularly if it is the interface between several modes. Its modal function relates to its while its intermodal function indicates its level of service. The regional multimodal network converges at major articulation points allowing linkages with the international transportation system through a maritime / land interface. Port cities are the main agent of that function. Containerization has particularly developed the maritime / land interface. It insures flexibility of shipments and several ports have opted for this multimodal transportation technology to keep and consolidate their status of hub center.
Source: The Geography of Transport Systems