Inland terminals serve three non-exclusive functions:
- Satellite terminal. An intermodal facility built in proximity to the port in order to handle additional traffic, particularly if the port facility is congested (high costs). It allows ports to outsource a part of their footprint to lower-cost locations. Satellite terminals are also widely used to support container transloading activities and empty container depots.
- Load center. A standard intermodal terminal aiming at servicing a regional market and connecting through corridors to ports and other intermodal facilities.
- Transshipment. In some circumstances, an inland terminal may also serve a transshipment role that connects different systems of circulation. This transshipment can occur either by shunting (rail to rail) or between terminals with truck transfers.