Learning from the effects of past crises allows the transport sector to handle future crises effectively and proactively. The goal of this paper is to identify and classify types of crises that have hit Europe in the previous 20 years and to identify the effects of these crises on the freight transport modes. Moreover, further research on each transport mode is derived. To reach this goal, we conducted a systematic literature review by using five well‐known databases, which resulted in 296 search results, of which 29 references were relevant. We identified four crises that hit the freight transport modes in the previous 20 years in Europe: the 2008 financial crisis, the 2015 migration crisis, the 2020 COVID‐19 crisis, and the ongoing climate crisis. However, the effects of the different crises on the transport modes can be both positive (e.g., the introduction of a new maritime slow-steaming service) or negative (e.g., a reduction in safety). The insights, gaps, and future research directions identified will encourage researchers, as well as practitioners, to learn from previous crises and be prepared for proactive actions during future crises, thus contributing to more reliable and sustainable transportation systems.