There are two major characteristics of a landbridge freight service:
First, there is a single bill of lading issued by the freight forwarder that covers the entire intermodal journey. Second, the goods remain in the same container for the entire journey.
Four major types of landbridges can be identified:
Landbridge. The rail system is used as a link between a foreign origin and destination. The continental mass is used as a link (bridge) between two maritime systems. The transport mode is almost exclusively rail because it offers faster long-distance service. An example would be to ship a container from Japan to Europe by using the North American Landbridge as a way to bypass the detour imposed by the Panama Canal.
Minibridge. It involves a foreign origin, but the destination is a port reached from another port of the same continental mass. The TranSiberian was the first minibridge to be in operation in 1967, linking harbors of the pacific coast to harbors of Baltic and Atlantic coasts of Europe. However, problems of railway gauging between Russia and Western Europe impose some delays as rail cargo needs to be transloaded. Still, a Europe-Asia link (Eurasian Landbridge or New Silk Road) that covers Siberia and ends at the pacific coast of Russia or China is receiving serious consideration.
Microbridge. It involves a link between a foreign origin and an inland destination via a port of entry. The minibridge and the microbridge took more time to become implemented in North America because of the regulation of the maritime and railway sectors that impeded collaboration (such as joint ventures) among companies of different transport sectors.
Reverse microbridge. It is similar to a microbridge, but the port of entry is on another facade than the most direct maritime route. In North America, this implies for transpacific trade the usage of the Panama Canal through an all-water route to reach an inland destination through an East Coast port. For Europe, this would imply for cargo coming from Pacific Asia using a Northern European port such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, or Hamburg to reach an inland destination in Southern Europe.