Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is Intermodal Rail?

When my husband first heard the word 'intermodal' he thought I was making up words again (which I do admit to having a small habit of doing). When discussing the subject again the other day, it gave me a thought, if my husband who is married to a freight professional and also makes important freight decisions at work doesn't understand intermodal then there are probably many others in his same shoes.

So let's start with the basics:

Intermodal Rail is a mode of transportation that combines the use of rail and truck. A draymen (local trucking company) is dispatched to pickup the freight from the shipper to move it to the nearest rail head. It is then loaded onto a rail car and shipped to the closest rail head at the destination. Upon arrival a different draymen is dispatched to pickup and deliver the load to the final destination.

So we have good news and some bad news with this particular mode of transportation, but depending on your specific needs the benefits of this service may possibly outweigh the downfalls.

Let's start with the bad news. Intermodal requires longer lead times. Also depending on your location intermodal may not be a feasible option if a railhead is not located close by.

Now ready for the good news? Intermodal can offer a nice cost benefit, especially with heavy weight and dense goods. It is also a great 'green' option. A rail train emits 6.8lbs of carbon emissions for every 100 ton miles compared to an over-the-road truck that can emit up to 19.8lbs. A rail train can also move 1 TON of freight approximately 830 miles on 1 gallon of diesel fuel!

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our intermodal services, give us a call at 877.298.7359 where freight quotes are as easy as a phone call.


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