The transhipment of loading units from one mode to another requires sites and equipment that are adequate for the purpose. A network of terminals has gradually been established in Europe; the dimensions of these vary greatly, depending on the market they serve, which also determines their location.
Good liaison with the network of major road routes and proximity to the centres of production of the shippers on the one hand and, from the point of view of rail, good links with the rail network and tracks of a length appropriate for the constitution of the CT trains are the conditions for effective operation.
Logically, the large terminals are located close to or at the centre of important industrial and economic zones, and for increasingly important environment and safety reasons at reasonably fair distances from residential areas. They are generally equipped with gantry cranes.
Alongside these mega-terminals requiring investments of several dozen million euros, transhipment yards that are smaller and more targeted (for example compared to a single large undertaking) make do with more modest equipment such as a short rail track and a mobile crane, even if it means providing a module-based expansion zone, if necessary subsequently.
In several cases member companies of the UIRR are themselves (co-)managers of terminals; this activity is thus not reserved exclusively to the rail undertakings or operating companies (possibly mixed) created to this end.