Have you ever shipped anything via railroads? Historically, rail transport hasn’t been the first choice for plenty of industries. However, more and more companies are switching from trucks to rail. Significant investments in the intermodal transportation in the recent decades made it more reliable, cost-effective and service-oriented.
Rail might not be the most efficient and economical option for short-hauls or last-minute moves which require the flexibility of a motor carrier. At the same time, it might be a great idea for pre-planned long-hauls, and moving from OTR to rail could benefit your supply chain in several ways.
Although the transit time might be slightly longer, shipping via rail can be 15-20% cheaper than OTR. The primary reason for it being the cost of fuel. According to research, rail is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than trucks. This result is based on the number of miles one ton of freight can travel on one gallon of fuel. Rail will quite often be a budget-saver on your long-hauls and cross-country runs.
Rail companies offer a much more sophisticated and advanced technology for tracking than most motor carriers. Intermodal companies have heavily invested in the GPS tracking and software which gives their customers complete visibility of their product in transit. Obtaining updates or getting the GPS tracking set up and working when shipping OTR might be quite a chore – most intermodal companies will give you this option by default.
Rail has much higher safety scores compared to motor carriers. Rail is generally less often involved in accidents or causes fatalities. The numbers for rail accidents and derailments are continuously dropping, making rail an even safer way to ship your freight. Additionally, trains are less likely to break down in transit which is a fairly common issue with trucks and results in recurring delays and missed RAD’s.
Everyone knows it’s crucial to start thinking about the environment. Rail is the way to go if you are willing to lower emissions and reduce your company’s carbon footprint. It’s a much more environment-friendly alternative than trucks – it’s been calculated that rail is 6 times less carbon intensive. Rail doesn’t completely solve the problem and provide an absolutely 100% green solution for the transportation industry, but it still reduces the greenhouse gas emissions – even small steps make a difference.
Overall, intermodal carriers generally offer a more stable, reliable service and capacity. If your company often requires long-distance runs and is looking to cut down the high OTR costs, especially, when the volume goes up and OTR capacity tightens – researching rail options for your regular lanes might be worth your time.