In many circumstances intermodal transport is not competitive to direct road haulage. Intermodal transport is often less cost-effective, more time-consuming and less reliable than road transport. The necessary handling and the initial and final road section in an intermodal transport chain play an important role in this respect. Cost savings and quality improvements in the handling systems at container terminals as well as in the initial and final road section are therefore vital instruments for enhancing the competitiveness of intermodal transport. The concept of ‘integrated centres for the transshipment, storage, collection and distribution of goods’, presented in this article, integrates these policy instruments. The integrated centre is characterized by the spatial and functional integration of container handling, storage plus businesses having intensive container transport. The key element of the centre is the centre's own internal transport system. This paper outlines where, and under what conditions, these integrated centres could be best developed. Finally, the possibilities for developing such a centre at the Rotterdam Maasvlakte area are more fully discussed.