Any improvement in the transport system will have a significant impact on the economies of developing countries and the prosperity of their trade (UNCTAD, 1994a). Keeping this point in consideration, the present research focuses on freight transport multimodal development for international trade in developing countries, in particular Bangladesh.

Multimodal transport can be defined as the most cost- and time-effective way of moving goods from shipper to consignee by at least two different modes of transport by a single operator under a single contract.

Multimodal transport is sometimes termed as ‘intermodal transport’ in the U. S. and ‘combined transport’ in Europe. Some consider multimodal transport as a ‘technology’ (Chowdhury, 1995; Fowkes et al., 1991), others as a ‘service’ rather than ‘technology’ (D’Este, 1996) while others consider it as a ‘systems approach’ to transport services (Hayuth, 1987).

The present research prefers to adopt the last approach (systems approach). In principle a systems approach focuses on the overall interaction and achievement rather than on individual elements of a transport haul. Thus the aim is to operate the whole system effectively and efficiently, not just an individual element (Coyle etal.,1996).