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Intermodal Transportation: The Economic Solution

With the growing shortage of truck drivers, people are now noting intermodal transportation crucial for US economic growth. Intermodal rail has always been a viable alternative but sometimes we forget with most Americans now accustomed to a 1-2 day shipping standard. Though intermodal is not the fastest method for shipping, it is the most cost effective.

Today we will explore the benefits of intermodal transportation and when it is the most appropriate solution for your cargo.

Intermodal transportation refers to utilizing more than one mode of transportation typically involving the rail. Rail transportation is often considered the “greener” solution since a 40,000-pound load can be placed in one rail car going 3,000 miles and producing 7 tons of carbon pollution. Whereas the same 40,000-pound load would have to be spread across 4 trucks producing 17.4 tons of carbon pollution. Intermodal transportation is also considerably more reliable than trucking since the cost of OTR transportation is increasing. One train can transport a load that is equivalent to 280 trucks and with most containers typically adhering to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), making it easier as the load goes from one mode of transportation to another. The entire container can be transferred rather than having the contents unloaded and loaded into another container with every transition. This results in reduced cost and time and increases safety and security for the actual freight itself. GPS trackers can be placed in rail cars to decrease the chances of losing shipments and there is considerably less distractions and delays because traffic is not a concern.

Having said that, multimodal transportation– where a single company is responsible for the movement of cargo across all modes– is expected to impede the growth of intermodal freight transportation in the future. It is more or less the same but requires a higher level of integration between carriers and operators.

Though many are hesitant of integrating rail into their logistics plan, it is important to keep in mind that as of this year, more than 50% of all goods are by trucking. When transporting goods a long distance with flexible timelines, it is worth considering this alternative. A savvy shipper always knows how to work intermodal rail into their shipping matrix to allow flexibility in lanes that are highly competitive in transit times while compromising very little in comparison in trucking.

US Cargo Link is an asset-based 3PL service provider with a wide range of solutions including intermodal transportation. Contact us today to see how we can be your link to success!

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