Efficient Intermodal (Multimodal) Transport System

Intermodal (Multimodal) Transport System
Intermodal (Multimodal) Transport System


In the urban transit and smart city revolution unfolding in India, the integration of intermodal (multimodal) transport systems emerges as a fundamental component driving sustainability, economic prosperity, and enhanced quality of life This seamless blend of various modes of transportation, emerging as a intermodal system that offers a multifaceted solution to benefit not only the commuters but also aligning itself with the governmental objectives and environmental conservation efforts.

Intermodal transport systems stand out as a cornerstone of urban transit evolution, providing commuters with a blend of efficiency, affordability, and accessibility. This integration streamlines traveling experience, thus reducing  the travel-time and enhancing connectivity within the cities. Furthermore, the harmonization of diverse transport modes help in the alleviation of traffic congestion, eventually fostering smoother traffic flow and curbing environmental degradation.

From a governmental standpoint, the embrace of intermodal transport systems resonates with the vision of smart city development and sustainable urban planning. By investing in these interconnected networks, governments can bolster transportation efficiency, slash carbon footprints, and catalyze economic growth through improved logistics and connectivity. This strategic investment not only bolsters the economy but also nurtures a greener, more sustainable transportation ecosystem.

Multimodal Transport

A multi-modal transport system is a sophisticated network that seamlessly connects various modes of public transportation, creating transit hubs where commuters can easily switch between different transportation modes. These transit hubs serve as junctions that enhance transportation efficiency, save time, and improve the speed of movement by facilitating smooth exchange between railways, metros, buses, autos, airplanes, and other modes of transportation. This integrated system not only offers convenience and accessibility to the commuters but also plays a crucial role in ushering the initiatives of urban development and smart cities mission. The key features of a multi-modal transport system include the provision of diverse public transport modes at centralized location, enabling commuters to transit among different modes of transportation effortlessly. By consolidating railways, metros, buses, autos, and airplanes at one place, this system simplifies the commuting experience, making it more efficient and commuter-friendly. Transit hubs within such multi-modal systems are generally equipped with essential passenger services like ticketing facilities, waiting areas, and canteens, enhancing the overall commuting experience and ensuring effective crowd management during transit.

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Role in Urban Development and Smart Cities

In the context of urban development and smart cities, the adoption of multi-modal transport system offers a myriad of benefits. By promoting the integration of various transportation modes, these systems reduce the reliance on private vehicles, consequently alleviating traffic congestion and mitigating air and noise pollution. Particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of resilient and efficient public transport systems has been underscored, emphasizing the need for reliable mass transit options that prioritize safety and cleanliness.

Driven by the global trend towards safer, cleaner, and more organized transportation, multi-modal transit solutions are gaining widespread adoption. These systems not only enhance the efficiency of public transport but also contribute to the sustainable urban development by fostering transport-oriented urban planning. As transportation serves as the lifeblood of a city, facilitating effective mobility and connectivity, the integration of roadways, railways, waterways, and airways becomes essential for seamless city functioning and growth.

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As cities expand and urban sprawl increases, the demand for a cohesive network of transportation systems becomes imperative to maintain optimal city functionality. Multi-modal transport systems emerge as a vital component in addressing the challenges posed by urban growth, offering a comprehensive solution to enhance mobility for both individuals and goods. Such interconnectedness of  of different transportation modalities through well-designed nodes, multi-modal transport systems play a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and sustainable urban mobility, catering to the evolving needs of modern cities and their inhabitants.

Accessibility and Mobility – Meeting the Needs  

Accessibility and mobility are at the core of multi-modal transport systems, offering commuters seamless connectivity and ease of movement between distinct origins and destinations. 

Accessibility refers to the ease with which people can reach a desired activities and services within a defined geographic area. It encompasses the ability to access a specific location from multiple points or to reach multiple destinations from any given point.

Multi-modal planning recognizes that mobility involves more than just the movement of vehicles; it involves the ability of individuals to traverse between different modes of transportation to reach their desired destination efficiently. In a multi-modal transport system, commuters have the flexibility to combine different transportation modes according to their needs. For instance, a person may utilize public transportation such as buses or trains for longer distances and then walk or cycle for shorter distances to reach their its destination. Similarly, a bike share user may cycle from one docking station to another and then walk to their ultimate destination.

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By offering a diverse range of transportation options and integrating them seamlessly, multi-modal transport systems enhance accessibility for commuters of all backgrounds and abilities. These systems cater to the varied needs of individuals, providing convenient and efficient solutions for urban mobility challenges. Additionally, understanding the interconnectedness of different modes of transportation is crucial for planning and implementing a safe and effective multi-modal transport network.

Here are some key points to understand about accessibility and mobility within multi-modal transport systems:

Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)

  • Destination accessibility is a key factor in reducing the need for extensive vehicle travel.
  • Poor accessibility often leads to high VMT, especially in sprawling urban areas where destinations are spread out.
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Impact of Sprawl

  • Sprawl refers to the unplanned expansion of residential and commercial development, resulting in dispersed communities and increased reliance on automobiles.
  • Poor accessibility contributes to the sprawl cycle, where auto travel dominates, and activity centers fail to synchronize, leading to inefficient urban development.

Challenges of Narrow Mobility and Accessibility Focus

  • A narrow focus on mobility and accessibility can exacerbate sprawl by prioritizing auto travel over other modes of transportation.
  • This approach fails to concentrate activity centers, resulting in scattered development patterns that are difficult to serve with efficient transit options.

Syncing Activity Uses and Urban Growth

  • Instead of perpetuating sprawl, multi-modal transport systems aim to sync activity uses into centers, promoting compact urban growth.
  • This approach minimizes the need for extensive travel and encourages the development of walkable, transit-oriented communities.

Investment Strategies

  • Rather than continually expanding infrastructure into outlying areas, investment in multi-modal transport systems focuses on reinforcing existing activity centers and promoting compact urban development.
  • This proactive approach helps agencies avoid playing catch-up and fosters sustainable urban growth.

Accessibility and mobility are essential components of multi-modal transport systems, which aim to reduce reliance on automobiles, minimize VMT, and promote compact, transit-oriented development. By prioritizing efficient transportation options and syncing activity uses into centers, these systems contribute to more sustainable and vibrant urban environments.

Case Studies – India’s Multimodal Transport Projects

The 2011 census of India speaks volumes about the necessity for an effective multi-modal transport system, with 53% of the working population relying on foot travel, 17% using public transport, and 13% opting for private vehicles. Taking this data into account  the Government of India has prioritized the development of multi-modal transit systemsthat can decongest the roads of traffic and enhance the public transport infrastructure.

India’s endeavor to revamp its transportation infrastructure has witnessed the emergence of several multimodal transport projects tailored to meet the specific needs of its diverse cities and citizens. Let’s delve into some key projects that are either operational or in progress, each addressing the unique challenges faced by the respective cities.

Balewadi Multi-Modal Transit Hub, Pune

The Balewadi Multi-Modal Transit Hub project in Pune exemplifies India’s aspiration to modernize its transportation infrastructure. . Spearheaded by the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL), this project aims to construct a multi-modal transit hub spread over 10.84 acres in Balewadi, with an estimated cost of Rs 1,251 crore. Through a public-private partnership (PPP) mode, the project seeks to seamlessly integrate various modes of transport, addressing the diverse commuting needs of Pune’s residents.

The comprehensive plan for the facility includes a bus terminus for MSRTC, a PMPML depot, and provisions for private bus parking. Moreover, it will facilitate Metro-related services along the Hinjewadi-Shivajinagar route, offering seamless connectivity across different modes of transport. Initially managed by PSCDCL, the project has now been handed over to the Pune Municipal Corporation, emphasizing collaborative efforts towards its execution.

The integration of transit-oriented development (ToD) principles into the project’s design will enhance its commercial viability and generate revenue for the civic body. Located strategically along the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass, the hub will improve access to Mumbai and Satara-Kolhapur, benefiting commuters and facilitating smoother transit between cities.

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Pune’s population heavily relies on foot travel for commuting, making an efficient multi-modal transport system crucial. The proposed hub is perfectly poised to address this need by offering diverse commuting options, ensuring seamless connectivity and accessibility for Pune’s residents. By consolidating different modes of transport such as buses, trains, and potentially metro services, the hub will provide commuters with convenient and efficient travel options tailored to the city’s diverse population.

Furthermore, with direct access to the IT hub, the project will serve as a vital transportation artery for Pune’s western area, supporting the burgeoning residential and commercial developments in the region. By offering diverse commuting options and ensuring seamless connectivity, the Balewadi Multi-Modal Transit Hub represents a significant step towards enhancing Pune’s transportation infrastructure, catering to the evolving needs of its residents and ensuring a more efficient and sustainable transport network for the city’s future.

Bengaluru Airport – Multi Transit Hub

Bengaluru International Airport, also known as Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), is on the brink of becoming India’s pioneer airport with a Multi-Modal Transport Hub (MMTH), aiming to provide seamless travel integration for passengers. This groundbreaking facility is nearing completion, according to statements from Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL).

The MMTH hub is designed to cater to the current and future needs of passengers and staff by consolidating various modes of transport under one roof. It will encompass private car parking, taxi services, and inter/intra-city buses operated by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Furthermore, the hub will be intricately connected to the Airport Terminals Metro station.

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Once operational, the MMTH facility will amalgamate bus and Metro stations, private car/taxi/cab parking, a baggage sorting area, and a retail section. Unlike most airports in India, where such facilities are dispersed, Bengaluru airport’s MMTH will centralize transport modes for enhanced convenience.

With the airport serving approximately 1.05 lakh passengers daily, the MMTH will significantly enhance connectivity, with 72 percent of passengers currently relying on cars and taxis, and the remaining 28 percent utilizing buses. This integration will streamline commutation  for all passengers, facilitating a seamless transition between various modes of transportation.

The MMTH hub’s advanced construction stages indicate significant progress, with the temporary parking and drop-off area already operational. Once fully operational, Bengaluru airport will join the league of renowned airports like Zurich and Heathrow, offering hassle-free travel integration. This initiative aligns with the concept of multi-modal integration, ensuring efficient connectivity between various transportation modes, further enhancing Bengaluru’s status as a dynamic and progressive city.

Greater Noida – Multi Transit Hub

An exemplary initiative identified within the Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad Investment Region (DNGIR) of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is the “Multi Modal Transport Hub (MMTH) at Boraki in Greater Noida,” situated in the Uttar Pradesh (UP) sub-region. This transformative project aims to establish a cutting-edge railway station at Boraki, designed to serve as a pivotal transport hub. The envisioned hub will feature a state-of-the-art railway terminus complemented by an Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT) and a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) station, alongside commercial activities, capitalizing on its strategic location where various transport modes would converge.

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The integrated railway hub is slated to set new benchmarks in passenger facilities, incorporating commercial and institutional amenities such as office complexes, shopping centers, and hotels. The project envisages the development of a modern and user-friendly regional railway terminal that seamlessly integrates with an MRTS, ISBT, and a Business Centre, catering to the needs of both commuters and businesses alike.

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Spanning over 412.7 acres, the MMTH at Boraki and its surrounding station area development in Greater Noida aim to enhance transport connectivity for the DNGIR and the upcoming UP-Sub Region, serving as a catchment zone for the proposed transit facility. This project is envisioned to revolutionize passenger movement with provisions for rail, road, and MRTS accessibility, seamlessly integrating Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT), Local Bus Terminal (LBT), metro, commercial, retail, hotel space, and green open spaces. With an estimated employment generation of about 1 lakh persons by 2040, these projects are poised to unlock significant growth opportunities in the surrounding areas, ultimately contributing to the decongestion of Delhi and fostering sustainable development.

Thane Multimodal Transit Hub

The Thane multi-modal transport hub project is a joint initiative between the Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) and the Thane Municipal Corporation. It aims to ease traffic congestion at Thane railway station during peak hours. The project encompasses a Station Area Traffic Improvement Scheme (SATIS) in Thane East, modeled after the successful multi-modal transit hub in Thane West. Key features include a 2.24-kilometer-long elevated road with dedicated pedestrian lanes and a basement for parking. Plans also include constructing an office building for future Indian Railways expansion. A 9000-square-meter deck area for Public Transport Management (PTM) in Thane East will host amenities such as a bus stop, food court, and public utilities. 

This deck area will directly connect to the existing railway foot overbridge. The elevated bridge, spanning 2.24 kilometers, will feature multiple lanes to enhance traffic flow. Additionally, a proposed basement parking facility will accommodate two and four-wheeler vehicles. Overall, the Thane multi-modal transport hub project aims to enhance transportation infrastructure, improve commuter experience, and meet the evolving needs of Mumbai’s growing urban landscape.

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The integration of different transportation modes with Thane Railway Station is set to revolutionize commuting in the area. 

  • This initiative aims to alleviate traffic congestion, particularly around the Eastern side of Thane Railway Station. 
  • By providing a dedicated elevated road, the project will enhance the efficiency and security of public transport. 
  • Special attention will be given to pedestrian safety and convenience, ensuring smooth traffic flow for both pedestrians and vehicles. 
  • With proposed parking facilities and improved infrastructure, the project will significantly enhance traffic management in the vicinity. 
  • This holistic approach not only benefits commuters but also contributes to fuel savings and reduces pollution, making the surrounding area more environmentally sustainable.

Hyderabad Multimodal Transport System

The Hyderabad Metro Rail stands as a landmark project, revolutionizing public transportation in Hyderabad. Covering a sprawling 66 km across three meticulously planned corridors, it offers a paradigm shift in the commuter experience. Seamlessly integrating with existing transportation networks, the metro facilitates multi-modal connectivity, empowering commuters to navigate the city with ease.

Strategically positioned stations such as Miyapur, MGBS, and Secunderabad East serve as vital hubs, providing convenient access to intercity, inter-state, and intra-state bus services. Furthermore, integration with key Indian Railways junctions like Secunderabad and Nampally ensures comprehensive connectivity to major railway stations.

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Notably, the Hyderabad Metro Rail extends its reach to MMTS services, bridging gaps between different modes of transport at stations like Bharatnagar and Lakdi-ka-pul. This cohesive integration enables commuters to seamlessly switch between different transport systems, fostering efficient and hassle-free travel experience.

By delivering a world-class transit system, the project significantly mitigates traffic congestion, offering relief to the commuters. The introduction of multi-modal connectivity not only enhances the city’s public transport system but also propels its future development. Hyderabad’s journey towards sustainable urban mobility is propelled by the transformative impact of the Hyderabad Metro Rail, marking a pivotal moment in the city’s transportation landscape.

Sustainability of Multimodal Transport

The implementation of a multi-modal transport system, particularly intermodal transport, holds tremendous potential for fostering environmental sustainability by reducing emissions and enhancing energy efficiency. Intermodal transport seamlessly integrates various modes such as road, rail, sea, and air, playing a vital role in minimizing the environmental footprint of transportation activities.

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Environmental Benefits of Intermodal Transport

Intermodal transport stands out for its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and lower air pollution levels. By prioritizing greener modes of transport like rail and sea wherever possible, intermodal transport significantly decreases carbon emissions. For example, transporting one ton of freight through rail can reduce CO2 emissions by a substantial 83%, showcasing the environmental advantage of intermodal transport. Additionally, resource optimization in intermodal transport leads to improved fuel efficiency and reduced congestion on road networks, further contributing to environmental sustainability.

Comparison with Single-Mode Transport

In contrast to single-mode transport, intermodal transport offers a more sustainable alternative by leveraging the strengths of different transportation modes. Single-mode transport systems often lack the flexibility and efficiency that intermodal transport provides. By combining various modes based on factors like distance, cost, and time sensitivity, intermodal transport optimizes the transportation process, leading to enhanced efficiency and reduced environmental impact. This comparison underscores the importance of transitioning towards intermodal transport to achieve greater sustainability in the transportation sector.

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Initiatives Promoting Sustainable Intermodal Transport

Numerous initiatives and practices are being implemented to promote sustainable intermodal transport. These include investments in infrastructure development, technology integration, and standardized processes to enhance the efficiency and environmental friendliness of intermodal transport systems. Businesses are increasingly embracing intermodal transport to reduce their carbon footprint, increase operational efficiency, and contribute to a greener future. By utilizing intermodal transport, companies can achieve cost savings, enhance shipment safety, and align their operations with environmental goals.

Speculating on the Environmental Impact

  • Lower Carbon Emissions: Multi-modal travel has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions by encouraging the use of more sustainable modes of transportation. According to the International Transport Forum, multi-modal transport systems could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30% compared to single-mode systems.
  • Reduced Energy Consumption: By promoting the use of energy-efficient modes of transportation such as cycling and public transit, multi-modal travel can help reduce overall energy consumption. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests that combining public transport with walking or biking could reduce energy consumption by up to 20%.
  • Reduction in Congestion: Multi-modal travel can alleviate traffic congestion by encouraging the use of public transport and micro mobility options, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every person who switches from driving alone to public transport can reduce their carbon emissions by 4,800 lbs per year.
  • Increased Transport Accessibility: By providing a variety of transportation options, multi-modal systems can improve access to transportation for individuals who may not have access to private vehicles, thus promoting inclusivity and equity in transportation access.
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Multi-modal transport systems offer significant environmental benefits, including reduced carbon emissions, lower energy consumption, improved air quality, and increased access to transportation for all individuals. By promoting the use of sustainable transportation modes and reducing reliance on single-mode systems, multi-modal transport systems play a crucial role in mitigating the environmental impact of transportation activities and fostering a greener future.

Why Shift to an Intermodal Transport System?

Multimodal transportation, characterized by the integration of various transportation modes, offers numerous benefits for individuals and communities alike. This section explores the rationale behind the shift towards multimodal transportation, highlighting its significance in promoting accessibility, sustainability, and efficiency in transportation systems.

Mindset and Affordability

One of the key strategies in promoting multimodal transportation involves changing the mindset of transportation system users. By articulating and implementing a steady program of interventions, cities can demonstrate the benefits of a more balanced policy package to multiple constituencies. This approach aims to highlight the advantages of multimodal transportation, such as improved accessibility, reduced congestion, and enhanced environmental sustainability.


To ensure equitable access to multimodal transportation, targeted subsidies can be directed towards specific user groups facing potential mobility constraints. Low-income communities, burdened by vehicle expenses, often find it challenging to access reliable transportation options. By offering subsidies tailored to their needs, cities can alleviate financial burdens and promote greater mobility among the vulnerable population.

Enhancing Accessibility and Inclusivity

Modal diversity plays a crucial role in ensuring access to transportation for diverse segments of the population. From children and senior citizens to individuals with disabilities or limited financial resources, multimodal systems aim to cater a wide range of transportation needs. By providing alternatives to traditional car-centric travel, multimodal transportation ensures inclusivity and accessibility for all the members of society.

Factors Influencing Mode Choice

Mode choice is influenced by various factors, including convenience, cost, travel time, and available commuter benefits. Multimodal transportation expands mode choice by offering a diverse range of options, including public transit, walking, biking, and emerging technologies like ride-sharing services. Understanding the factors behind mode choice is essential for designing an effective multimodal transportation system that meets the needs of users.

Holistic Planning Approach

Effective multimodal transportation planning requires a comprehensive and holistic approach. Planners, designers, engineers, and policymakers must collaborate to create transportation systems that prioritize safety, affordability, and environmental sustainability. By integrating strategies to promote awareness, improve safety, and enhance convenience, multimodal transportation becomes a more attractive option for users.

Community Engagement and Participation

Community participation is vital in generating innovative solutions and building support for multimodal transportation initiatives. By engaging stakeholders in the planning process, decision-makers can ensure that transportation projects reflect the needs and priorities of local communities. Encouraging advocacy for incremental improvements and targeting subsidies towards underserved communities further strengthens the inclusivity of multimodal transportation.

Investment and Partnership Strategies

Investment in transportation infrastructure is essential for supporting multimodal transportation. Diverse revenue sources and public-private partnerships play a crucial role in funding and developing transit-supportive land uses. By leveraging partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms, cities can accelerate the implementation of multimodal transportation projects and maximize their impact on mobility and accessibility.

Addressing Diverse Transportation Needs

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Multimodal transportation caters to a diverse range of transportation needs, including:

  • Children and Teenagers: Who do not possess a driver’s license and rely on alternative modes of transportation.
  • Seniors: Those who may not drive or should not drive because of safety concerns.
  • Adults with Disabilities: Who require accessible transportation options to meet their mobility needs.
  • Low-Income Households: Struggling with vehicle expenses and in need of affordable transportation alternatives.
  • Law-Abiding Drinkers and Impaired Individuals: Who require safe and reliable transportation options.
  • Community Visitors: Who lack access to personal vehicles or driver’s licenses.
  • Individuals Seeking Active Transportation: Who choose to walk or bike for enjoyment and health benefits.
  • Drivers Seeking Convenience: Who wish to avoid the burdens of chauffeuring and parking.
  • Residents Seeking Sustainability: Who desire reduced congestion, accidents, and pollution emissions.

Boosting Local Businesses

Multimodal street projects play a pivotal role in supporting local businesses by enhancing safety and encouraging diverse modes of transportation. These projects have been shown to yield positive economic outcomes, including increased retail sales and enhanced property values. By creating attractive, safe spaces for transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists, cities can stimulate economic activity and foster vibrant commercial districts.

Research indicates that people who walk or cycle to an area tend to spend more at local retail businesses compared to those who arrive by car. This highlights the economic significance of prioritizing multimodal transportation infrastructure. By providing accessible and appealing streets for pedestrians and cyclists, cities can capitalize on higher retail spending, contributing to the growth and vitality of local businesses.

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Maximizing Economic Benefits

Investing in multimodal streets not only improves transportation options but also generates economic benefits for communities. By prioritizing safety and accessibility for all road users, cities can create environments that attract both residents and visitors, driving increased foot traffic and economic activity. Ultimately, embracing multimodal transportation strategies is not only beneficial for mobility but also essential for fostering thriving, economically vibrant neighborhoods.


The emergence of multimodal transport hubs across India marks a pivotal shift in addressing diverse transportation needs. Projects like the Balewadi Multi-Modal Transit Hub in Pune, Bengaluru International Airport’s MMTH, and proposed hubs in Greater Noida and Thane offer comprehensive solutions for seamless integration of various transport modes, benefiting commuters, the economy, and the environment.

These hubs alleviate congestion, enhance accessibility, and improve overall commuting experiences, positively impacting productivity, reducing pollution, and enhancing quality of life. It is imperative for the government to prioritize and support such initiatives to address urbanization challenges and promote sustainable development.

Multimodal hubs offer relief for congested urban areas by providing alternative transportation modes and encouraging modal diversity. As India moves towards a future marked by urbanization, the integration of multimodal transport infrastructure is crucial for inclusive growth, sustainable development, and improved well-being.

In essence, the adoption of intermodal transport systems in India signifies a significant stride towards sustainable urban transit, economic advancement, and environmental stewardship. Through the embrace of this innovative approach, India stands poised to cultivate a more integrated, efficient, and eco-conscious transportation framework that not only benefits commuters and the government but also paves the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for the nation. By fostering collaboration between various modes of transport, India can effectively address the growing challenges of urban mobility while simultaneously advancing its economic and environmental objectives.


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