CT is created by the combination of at least two modes within a single transport chain; when transfers between modes are carried out there is no change of loading unit and the greater part of the journey is done by rail.
The parties involved in road-rail CT are as follows:
The infrastructure managers (IM)
In exchange for a fee they place the rail network at the disposal of the operators.
NB: The separation between rail operations and infrastructure has been obligatory since the coming into force of European Directive 91/440;
The railway undertakings (RUs)
The railway undertakings provide rail traction services by means of locomotives and highly qualified drivers.
The Combined Transport operators
The operators buy transport capacity from the railway undertakings in volumes ranging from a single loading unit (distribution traffic) to a full train; they supply about half the wagons required, the other half coming from the RUs;
The managers of the transhipment yards (or terminals)
Depending on the case, they are CT operators, RUs or local operators.
The CT clients
In most cases, the clients are the freight transport companies, freight forwarders, and logistics companies, which themselves carry out delivery of the loading unit to the point of departure and/or its collection at the point of arrival.