A picture of a tanker chemical vessel used to illustrate our article on tramper and liner

Liner versus Tramp – ocean transport services

When working with ocean freight and maritime transport, it is important to know and understand the difference between Liner and Tramp.
These terms are used to designate a type of ocean transport service and can also be used to designate how a vessel is currently operating.

What is LINER service ?

This term designates a service which operates a regular route, on a regular basis. The ports, which are called by a vessel operating on a liner service route, and the schedule call dates are known ahead of time and often publicly available.

A Liner service is generally characterized by:

  • A set schedule and route (ports of call)
  • Mainly used for containerized and standard size goods
  • Cargo is booked on a specific route and voyage
  • Vessels are typically container vessels, general purpose vessels or RO/RO (roll on, roll off) vessels.
A container vessel used to illustrate the liner service in our logistics training article comparing Liner and Tramp ocean freight services.
Container vessels typically operate on the liner market.

What is TRAMP service ?

On the other hand, vessels which operate on the Tramp market – commonly called trampers – do not operate on a regular route or schedule and are made available for clients who will charter – or part-charter (with other clients) – the vessel for a specific journey or a specific duration.

A TRAMP service is generally characterized by:

  • No set schedule or route (ports of call).
  • Mainly used for bulk cargo (iron ore, coal, grain, oil…) and oversized goods.
  • Vessel is chartered on a full or partial basis and route is set in function of charterers.
  • Vessels are typically general purpose vessels, bulk carriers, tankers and some RO/RO vessels.
A chemical tanker vessel used to illustrate the tramp service in our logistics training article comparing Liner and Tramp ocean freight services.
Chemicals tankers typically operate on the tramp market.

Now that you are familiar with the difference between Liner and Tramp services, you may want to take a look at the 2020 world merchant fleet split by Liner versus Tramp and by vessel type.
Or perhaps, you may be interested in the main types of ocean cargo.

If you want to take this further, you can subscribe to our Ocean freight focused eLearning courses:
Ocean liner essentials (focused on Ocean freight liner service)
Use the coupon OCEAN10 at check out to knock $10 off the price of this course.