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Spatial analysis for an intermodal terminal to support agricultural logistics: A case study in the upper great plains

EunSu Lee (Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



The purpose of this study is to address an importance of an intermodal terminal regarding container drayage trips, which have a major concern for agricultural product exporters in the Upper Great Plains. Thus, this study aims to develop a geospatial model considering travel distance and total logistics costs for determining an alternative intermodal terminal location.


This paper develops a spatial model integrating integer linear programming to determine an intermodal facility location that minimizes total logistics costs. This research considers travel distance and total logistics costs including highway, rail and transshipment costs.


The results shows that a Dilworth, Minnesota, terminal reduces vehicle miles of travel on both the highways and rail networks and decreases system-wide total logistics costs compared to the do-nothing scenario while decreasing urban congestion costs in metropolitan areas.

Research limitations/implications

The major contribution of the study is that it provides an integrated tool of spatial and economic analyses to support regional decision-making. The paper will be of interest to regional planners and to those in the private business sectors including farmers and manufacturers. The future study should address demand forecasting on the containerized freight in the region.


The novel approach of this paper is to use a link blocking constraint, considering the directions of the freight flow in a p-hub intermodal problem.



Lee, E. (2015), "Spatial analysis for an intermodal terminal to support agricultural logistics: A case study in the upper great plains", Management Research Review, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 299-319.



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