Container for Shipping: Your Guide to Shipping Containers from the Pros

This post was last updated on September 30th, 2022

The shipping container you choose for your business is important. You want to make sure that it’s the right size and that it’s going to protect your items during shipping. And by understanding the best way to stack items and seal containers, you can ensure your cargo arrives safely at its destination.

Here’s everything you need to know about shipping containers from us here at, your Canadian and cross-border shipping experts.

Shipping Container Selection Guide: Types, Features, Applications, Sizes, and Uses

When it comes to container shipping, there are a lot of options available. But which container is the right one for your needs? With our quick guide, you’ll be able to select the best container for your particular shipment based on factors like type, size, application, and more.

Standard Shipping Rail Container Sizes VS High Cube Containers

The Standardization of shipping containers

As rail traffic has evolved, it became a major challenge to standardize exterior dimensions, size, and capacity specifications to allow seamless transportation and movement of intermodal cargo.

Railroads have then developed standardized shipping containers that align with the common and ISO standards, in order to safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively ship rail cargo across Canada and generally speaking, across the world.

Two major shipping container sizes are in use nowadays:

  • The ISO standard containers, are the ones set by the International Organization for Standardization thanks to the ISO 688 standard. They are the most common ones, used all over the world.
  • The “High Cube Containers”, are based on a common USA/Canadian standard (used for instance by CN and CP rail companies), with slightly taller containers.

Dimensions differences between Standard and High Cubes containers

The major difference between the two rail containers is the height.

While ISO containers are 8’6″ or 2.59 meters tall, high cube containers have a height of 9’6″ or approximately 2.90 meters high.

This represents an increase of one foot or 0.305 meters over the standard rail container height. It allows businesses to fit more merchandise in the container’s interior while keeping the same length.

The Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) rail container specifications

Good to know: The rail container dimensions are also used to determine the rail container capacity. These are expressed in “Twenty-foot Equivalent Units” or TEUs.

Standard shipping containers are 20′ long (around 6.06 meters), 8’6″ high (around 2.59 meters), and 8′ wide (around 2.44 meters), which calculates to 38.29 square meters of rail cargo-carrying space. The 40′ long (12.19 meters) is another standard cargo container size.pace. The 40′ long (12.19 meters) is another standard common size.

Types of containers

Standard dry cargo containers are the most common type of containers used. They come in various sizes, from 20 feet (6 meters) to 40 feet (12 meters) long.

Reefer containers: These containers have built-in refrigeration units and are used for perishable shipments. They come in 20-foot and 40-foot sizes.

Flat rack containers are containers with no sides or roof and are used for oversized or oddly-shaped shipments. They come in 20-foot and 40-foot sizes.

Open top containers: These containers have no hard top, making them easy to load and unload from the top. They come in 20-foot and 40-foot sizes.

Sizes of containers

20-foot container: The most popular container size, a 20-footer is perfect for smaller shipments. It’s also the most manageable size since it’s the standard most shipping lines use.

40-foot container: A 40-foot container is ideal for larger shipments or consolidating multiple smaller shipments into one container.

53′ high cube Dry van container: This container is the largest on the market and can hold up to 25% more volume. What does this mean to you? 26 – 30 skids depending upon the actual dimensions of each skid.

At RailGateway, we specialize in 40-foot and 53-high cube dry containers. For more details, visit our container specifications page.

Features of containers

Doors: All containers have doors on one end, which can be opened for loading and unloading. Some container types (like reefers and open tops) may have doors on both ends.

Locking bars: Most containers have locking bars that can be used to secure the doors shut. This is important for preventing theft and keeping your shipment safe during transit.

Security features: Some shipping lines offer extra security features like GPS tracking and tamper-proof seals. These can be worth the extra cost if you’re shipping high-value items or sensitive materials.


Dry cargo: Standard dry cargo containers can be used for a wide variety of shipments, from clothes and electronics to furniture and machinery.

Refrigerated cargo: Reefer containers are perfect for perishable items like food, flowers, and pharmaceuticals.

Oversized cargo: Flat rack containers can accommodate oversized or oddly-shaped shipments that wouldn’t fit in a standard container.

Top-loading cargo: Open-top containers are convenient for top-loading shipments like lumber, steel coils, or vehicles.

What You Need to Know Before Packing a Shipping Container

Packing a container is not as simple as loading up your items and sending them on their way. There are a few things you need to know to properly pack and ship your container, from the right packing materials to use to the best way to stack your items.

Packing materials 

Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is perfect for protecting fragile items during shipping. It’s important to use a good quality bubble wrap that won’t pop easily.

Foam peanuts: Foam peanuts can be used in place of bubble wrap or as additional padding for delicate items. They’re also great for filling empty spaces in the container so that your items don’t break during transit.

Cardboard boxes: Cardboard boxes are great for organizing and keeping your items safe during shipping. It’s important to use sturdy boxes that won’t collapse under the weight of your shipment.

Packing tape: Packing tape is essential for sealing up your boxes and securing them in the container. Make sure to use good-quality tape that won’t come undone easily.


It’s important to label all of your boxes so that the receiving party knows what’s inside. This will make unpacking easier and help to prevent any damages or losses. Be sure to include a detailed description of the contents, as well as your contact information in case there are any problems with the shipment.

How to Properly Pack and Ship ISO Containers

Now that you’ve selected the right container for your shipment, it’s time to start packing. Here are a few things you should keep in mind in order to ensure that everything arrives safely and in one piece.

Choose the right packing materials. For fragile items, use padding like bubble wrap or foam peanuts. For heavy items, use wooden pallets to distribute the weight evenly.

The Best Way to Stack Items in a Cargo Container

Stack items carefully. Make sure that heavier items are on the bottom and lighter items are on top. Use dunnage (wooden boards or metal bars) to secure stacked items and prevent shifting during transit.

How to Seal Intermodal Containers

Once your container is packed, seal the doors shut with locking bars or tamper-proof seals. Label the container with your contact information and the destination address.

Shipping Overseas

If you’re shipping a container overseas, there are a few additional things you need to do in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

First, you’ll need to obtain a bill of lading from the shipping company. This document will list the contents of your shipment and act as a contract between you and the shipper.

You’ll also need to fill out a customs declaration form. This form will list the value of your shipment and any applicable taxes or duties.

Finally, make sure to check with the destination country’s customs department to see if there are any special requirements for importing goods.

Packing and shipping a container doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little preparation and the right materials, you can safely ship your items to their destination. Just remember to choose the right container, pack carefully, and label everything clearly. By following these simple tips, you can be sure that your container will arrive safe and sound.

Looking to save on your Canadian intermodal transportation costs? At RailGateway, we have over 40 years of experience and can help you save time and money. Contact us today to request your rail quote.

For more information about container shipping, check out our posts:

10 Types of Intermodal Cargo You Can Ship in Containers
Container Bites: Interesting Intermodal Container Stats and Tid Bits
The Intermodal Container: Everything You Need to Know About Containerisation!

Shipment Consolidation and Deconsolidation: 3 Advantages of Freight Consolidation

Shipping is a critical part of business, but the costs can quickly add up. That’s why more and more companies are turning to freight consolidation as a way to reduce expenses. But what is freight consolidation, and what are the advantages it offers?

What is consolidated freight?

Freight consolidation is the process of combining multiple shipments into a single shipment. This can be done for a number of reasons, including reducing shipping costs and improving efficiency.

Here are three advantages of freight consolidation:

1. Reduced Shipping Costs– When consolidating your shipments, you’re taking advantage of the volume discounts freight carriers offer. By consolidating multiple shipments into one, you can often get a lower per-shipment rate.

2. Increased Efficiency– When you consolidate your shipments, you’re also increasing the efficiency of your shipping operation. This is because you’re now dealing with only one shipment instead of multiple shipments, and this can save you time and money in the long run.

3. Improved Tracking– When consolidating your shipments, you’ll also have an easier time tracking them. This is because you will only have to track one shipment instead of multiple shipments.

Overall, freight consolidation can offer many advantages to businesses that ship goods. Shipment consolidation may be the answer if you are looking for ways to reduce shipping costs and increase efficiency.

Possible shipping challenges of consolidation

Consolidating your shipments can help you save money and increase efficiency, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are some of the challenges you may face when consolidating your shipments:

1. Less Flexibility– You may have fewer options regarding shipment dates and times when consolidating your shipments. 

2. Longer Transit Times– You may also experience longer transit times when consolidating your shipments. This is because it may take longer to consolidate your shipment and get it on the road.

3. Increased Risk of Damages– When you consolidate your shipments, you may also increase the risk of damages. 

Rapid Fire FAQ’s about consolidated shipping

Is consolidated shipping faster?

No, it may take longer to consolidate your shipment and get it on the road.

Is consolidated shipping more expensive?

Consolidating your shipments can help you save money by taking advantage of volume discounts offered by freight carriers.

Is consolidated shipping riskier?

Consolidated shipping can be a cost-effective way to ship goods, but it can also increase the risk of damage or loss. Consolidated shipments are often larger and heavier and take longer to arrive at their destination, increasing the likelihood that something will go wrong during transit. As a result, shipment consolidation can be risky for businesses that rely on timely deliveries.

How do you consolidate cargo?

There are a few different ways to consolidate cargo, but the most common method is to use a freight consolidator. A freight consolidator is a company that specializes in consolidating shipments. They will pick up your cargo from multiple locations and consolidate them into one shipment.

What are freight consolidation services?

Freight consolidation services are services that help businesses consolidate their shipments. These services can pick up your shipment from multiple locations and consolidate them into one shipment. This can save you time and money by taking advantage of volume discounts offered by freight carriers.

What does a consolidator do?

A consolidator is a company that specializes in consolidating shipments. They pick up freight and cargo from multiple locations and consolidate them into one load in a pooled service. This can help you save money and increase efficiency by taking advantage of volume discounts offered by freight carriers.

Do I need a consolidator?

You may benefit from using a consolidator if you are shipping multiple items from multiple locations. A consolidator can help you save money and increase efficiency by taking advantage of volume discounts offered by freight carriers.

What are the differences between break bulk and consolidation warehouse?

There are a few key differences between break bulk and consolidation warehouses:

  1. Break bulk warehouses are typically used to store larger quantities of goods, while consolidation warehouses are used to store smaller quantities of goods.
  2. Break bulk warehouses typically have more space available for storing goods, while consolidation warehouses may be more limited in terms of space.
  3. Break bulk warehouses typically have more specialized equipment for handling and storing goods, while consolidation warehouses may be more limited in terms of such equipment.

What are consolidation and deconsolidation shipments?

Deconsolidation is the opposite process of consolidation involving the splitting of a single shipment into multiple shipments, typically with different end delivery locations.

Looking to ship to or from Canada? At RailGateway, we can help you to reduce your shipping costs and improve your efficiency. Our services can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. We understand that each business has unique shipping requirements, and we will work with you to develop a solution that meets your specific needs. Request an intermodal rail quote today.

Bill of Lading: What It Is, Different Types, How-to and More

What is a bill of lading? If you’re new to the world of shipping, this may be a question you have. A bill of lading, or BoL, is a document that outlines the details of a shipment.

It includes essential information such as the shipper and receiver’s name and contact information, the goods being shipped, and their weight and dimensions. There are different types of bill of ladings, each with specific uses.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what a bill of lading is, different types, why you need one, what to look for when filling one out and how to complete it correctly.

Bill of Lading Explained: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

The Bill of Lading is arguably the most used document to execute transport transactions by sea, air, and roadway in the commercial sector.

The importance, purpose, and types of bill of lading in shipping

A bill of lading is a legal document required to ship goods. It is a contract between the shipper and the carrier and outlines the shipment’s terms.

The bill of lading also serves as a receipt for the goods, and the carrier must sign it to be valid.

There are different types of bill of lading, including clean, dirty, or claused. A clean bill of lading means that the goods were received in good condition and that there are no damages or defects. A claused or dirty bill of lading means that there are some damages or defects.

The function of a bill of lading

A bill of lading is a document that lists the items being shipped, the quantity of each item, the destination, and the sender. Its main purpose is to serve as a receipt for goods that have been shipped.

Why is a bill of lading important?

The bill of lading can be used as a contract between the shipper and the carrier, outlining the responsibilities of each party. If any damage or loss occurs during transport, the bill of lading can be used as evidence to resolve the dispute. As such, the bill of lading is essential in ensuring smooth and successful shipments.

Is there a bill of lading without a consignee?

A bill of lading can be issued without a consignee, but it is not advisable to do so. Without a consignee, the bill of lading becomes an open contract, meaning anyone who presents the bill of lading to the carrier can claim the goods. This could lead to confusion and delays in receiving your shipment.

It is always best to include the consignee on the bill of lading to avoid any issues.

How to fill out a bill of lading

When filling out a bill of lading, there are a few critical pieces of information that you’ll need to include:

– The name and contact information for the shipper and receiver

– The goods being shipped and their weight and dimensions

– The date of shipment

– The mode of transport (sea, air, truck, etc.)

If you’re using a bill of lading template, fill in the required information. If you are creating your own bill of lading, include all of the necessary information and format it in a clear and easy-to-read way.

Signatures on a bill of lading

Once the bill of lading has been completed, it must be signed by both the shipper and the carrier. The carrier’s signature signifies that they have received the goods and that they are in good condition. The shipper’s signature indicates that they agree to the terms of the shipment.

It is important to note that an authorized representative of the carrier must sign the bill of lading in order for it to be valid.

What happens if the bill of lading is not signed?

If the carrier does not sign the bill of lading, it is not a valid document. This could cause delays in receiving your shipment or even result in losing your goods.

If you are unsure whether or not the bill of lading has been signed, you should contact the carrier and ask for confirmation.

Electronic bill of lading

An electronic bill of lading (eBL) is a bill of lading that is created and stored electronically. eBLs have many benefits over paper bill of ladings, including increased efficiency and accuracy, reduced costs, and improved security.

Accuracy is crucial

Regardless of using a traditional BoL or eBL, accuracy is key when filling out the bill of lading. Incorrect information could result in delays, confusion, and even loss of goods. It’s important to take the time to double-check all of the information on the bill of lading before signing it. This will help to ensure a smooth and successful shipment.

Who uses a bill of lading?

A bill of lading is used by the shipper, receiver, and carrier. The shipper uses the bill of lading to list the items being shipped, the quantity of each item, and the destination. The receiver uses the bill of lading to track the shipment and confirm that all items have been received. The carrier uses the bill of lading to transport the goods and track the shipment.

A bill of lading is an essential document in the shipping process, so it is important that all parties involved are familiar with its purpose and how to use it.

Who receives a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is most commonly used in international trade. When goods are shipped overseas, the bill of lading serves as a receipt for the shipper. It indicates that the carrier has received the goods and lists the type and quantity of goods being shipped.

Who issues a bill of lading?

The shipping company or carrier typically issues a bill of lading. In some cases, the freight forwarder may issue the bill of lading on behalf of the carrier. The bill of lading must list the name of the shipper, consignee (the party receiving the shipment), and notify party (if applicable).

How Many Types of Bill of Lading Are There – And When Is the Bill of Lading Required?

The Bill of Lading is a document that documents the transfer of goods from a ship to another. It’s given out after a cargo container – which comprises the items you’re shipping – has been loaded onto a vessel and travels abroad. There are various types of Bill of Ladings, depending on the goal, commodities, and necessity.

In some cases, the bill of lading may be used as a form of payment for the goods being shipped. If this is the case, it is known as a negotiable bill of lading.

If you’re shipping goods by multiple modes of transport, you’ll need to use a multimodal bill of lading. This type of bill lists all of the different stages of transport, from loading onto the initial mode of transport to unloading from the final mode of transport.

Whether you’re shipping by sea, air, or land, it is important to ensure that you have a bill of lading in order to avoid delays in delivery.

Different types of bills of lading

There are three common types of bill of lading: Straight, Order, and Negotiable.

straight bill of lading can only be issued to the consignee that is indicated on the bill.

An order bill of lading can be issued to either the consignee or the shipper, depending on who pays for the shipment.

negotiable bill of lading can be transferred from one party to another, making it more like a contract.

Each type of bill of lading has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your needs. When shipping goods, ensure that you have a bill of lading to protect your interests.

Types of bill of lading

  • Blank endorsed bill of lading
  • Inland bill of lading
  • On board bill of lading
  • Master bill of lading
  • Multimodal or through bill of lading
  • Release bill of lading
  • Short Form Bill of Lading
  • Straight Bill of Lading
  • Switch bill of lading

What is the difference between a negotiable or non-negotiable bill of lading?

A bill of lading can be either negotiable or non-negotiable. A negotiable bill of lading can be transferred from one party to another, and the title to the goods is passed along with the bill of lading.

Negotiable bill of ladings provides clear instructions to deliver to any person who possesses the original copy of a bill stating ownership of the freight and control of the freight. In such types of bills, the buyer/receiver or the agent must obtain & present an original copy of a bill of sale. The cargo cannot be released if there is no documentation on this document.

non-negotiable bill of lading cannot be transferred, and the title to the goods remains with the shipper. A bill of lading is typically used when goods are being shipped by sea, but it can also be used for other modes of transportation.

A non-negotiable bill: This type of delivery invoice specifies the consignee and the recipient to send and deliver the merchandise for shipment. Nevertheless, this cannot actually give the owner ownership over the goods.

A bill of lading is an important document in the shipping process. It serves as a contract between the shipper and carrier and outlines the terms of the shipment. There are many types of bills of lading, but accuracy is key when issuing one. 

If you need assistance with your intermodal shipping needs from or to Canada, contact Railgateway for a rail quote. We’re here to help make your shipping process as smooth as possible.

Intermodal Cross Border Shipping US to Canada

Cross-border shipping between the United States and Canada is a vital part of the North American economy. Every day, millions of dollars worth of goods and materials flow across the border by land, air, and sea.

To ensure that this trade can move smoothly and efficiently, it is essential to work with reputable cross-border shipping companies that have a well-developed system for border freight shipping.

This article will discuss what intermodal cross-border shipping is, how it works, and some of its benefits. We’ll also look at some other methods available for shipping goods across the US-Canada border and compare them with intermodal shipping.

Looking to ship freight across the border?

At RailGateway, we have years of experience shipping intermodal containers between the US and Canada. We’re familiar with all of the necessary paperwork and regulations, and we’ll work closely with you to ensure that your shipment is appropriately packaged and labeled.

We offer competitive shipping rates and convenient pick-up and delivery times, so you can rest assured that your shipment will arrive on time and within budget.

Request your rail freight quote today to learn more about our cross-border shipping services.

Shipping From the United States to Canada & Vice Versa: The Differences

A question that is frequently asked by businesses shipping goods between the United States and Canada is what is the best way to do so. There are a few different methods, but intermodal shipping is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to cross the border.

Since the enlargement of the US-Canadian trade system, international trade has expanded at an exponential rate. In 2019, US and Canada trades in goods totaled almost 714 billion.

Because the two countries have different laws and regulations, there are a few things to keep in mind when shipping from one country to the other.

For example, all shipments must be declared to Customs and Border Protection, and any items subject to import taxes or duties must be paid in full before the shipment can be released.

In addition, there are restrictions on what can be shipped across the border, so it’s essential to check with Customs or your intermodal rail partner beforehand to avoid any problems.

Shipping from Canada to the United States is generally a straightforward process, but it’s important to be aware of the differences to avoid any unnecessary delays or complications.

Shipping costs: What should you know about cross-border shipment taxes and tariffs?

When shipping freight from the United States to Canada, it’s important to be aware of the taxes and tariffs that may apply. These can vary depending on the type of goods being shipped and the value of the shipment.

Most shipments will be subject to a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5%. There may also be other duties or fees, such as an excise tax or excise duty. Check with your intermodal shipping company and customs department in advance.

For more information, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website and their Importing commercial goods into Canada guide.

By understanding the taxes and tariffs that apply to your shipment, you can help ensure a smooth and hassle-free shipping experience.

Canada Border Services Agency Required Documents

To avoid delays when shipping cross border, it’s important to include all of the necessary customs paperwork with your shipment.

For customs clearance you’ll need the following documents when exporting goods into Canada:

  • The manifest or the cargo control document, typically provided by your intermodal transportation provider
  • Certificate of origin
  • Bill of Lading (BOL)
  • A commercial invoice
  • Shipper’s export declaration form or packing slip
  • A Canada Customs invoice

Customs authorities may request further documentation depending on the type of cargo being shipped.

At RailGateway, we offer complete customs broker services for your intermodal cross-border freight shipping orders. Request a rail quote today to find out how we can help.

Certification of Origin

A Certificate of Origin (COO) may be required for shipments entering Canada. This document is used to prove that the goods being shipped originated from a particular country.

In the case of shipping from U.S to Canada, this can be obtained from your local chamber of commerce or industry association by presenting your commercial invoice.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

The Bill of Lading (also known as the BOL) is a document that serves as proof of ownership for your cross-border shipment and contains details about the origin, destination, and contents of your cargo.

Commercial invoices

Are used to document the value of your goods, and are often required when shipping across the US-Canada border.

At RailGateway, we offer a variety of services to help make your cross-border shipping experience as hassle-free as possible. Request a rail quote today to learn more.

Other Canada Border Services Agency documents

Some cross-border goods may differ in nature. In those cases, a professional and reliable customs broker service is able to help. Get in touch to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

A tariff code is an item’s specific code compiled under the HS maintained by the World Customs Organisation. HS are standard numerical methods of classification of traded goods.

The software is used by the US Customs Service to track goods in tax assessments and in collecting statistics. The first six-digit code is identical to those of any country.

Prohibited and restricted items

When shipping goods from the United States to Canada, there are some items that are prohibited or restricted by Canadian customs.

These items include:

  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Explosives
  • Flammable liquids and solids
  • Certain chemicals
  • Narcotics and drugs

For a complete list of restricted and prohibited goods visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Border Services Agency website.

Shipping Tips: What You Should Know Before Shipping Between Canada and the United States

There are a number of important factors to keep in mind when shipping freight across borders.

One of the most important is selecting a reputable intermodal shipping company that has experience with both cross-border shipments and your specific type of goods or service.

Choosing a company that is knowledgeable about customs regulations can also help to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and avoid delays at the border.

Another key consideration is packaging your items properly to ensure that they arrive safely and securely at their destination.

Finally, it is necessary to factor in any special requirements for either country, such as labeling guidelines, size restrictions, customs tariffs, or documentation requirements.

In short, when shipping between Canada and the US, it’s essential to choose a reliable carrier and prepare your freight carefully in order to enjoy a smooth and successful shipment.


Do I have to pay duty on items shipped from Canada to the USA?

There may be duties and taxes associated with cross-border shipments, depending on the type of goods being shipped, their destination, and other factors.

How does cross-border shipping work?

Cross-border shipping involves transporting freight from one country to another, typically across an international border. This may be done by truck, rail, air, or sea.

What are the requirements for importing goods into Canada?

There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to ship goods across an international border. These may include obtaining the proper documentation, adhering to customs regulations, and ensuring that the freight is properly packaged.

What are the risks of cross-border shipping?

There are a number of risks associated when shipping across borders, including delays at customs, damage to the freight, and lost or stolen shipments.

What are the benefits of cross-border shipping?

Cross-border shipping can offer a number of benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved delivery times. It’s also a great way to connect American businesses and consumers with Canadian businesses.

What is the cheapest shipping from Canada to the US?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the cost of shipping will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of goods being shipped, their destination, and the shipping method used.

However, working with a reputable and experienced shipping company can help to ensure that you get the best possible rate for your cross-border freight shipment.

Freight shipping from the US to Canada can be a complex process, with many different regulations and requirements that need to be met.

However, by working with an experienced intermodal shipping company, you can ensure that your goods arrive safely and on time.

At RailGateway, we have over 40 years of experience handling cross border shipments, and we can help you navigate the shipping process from start to finish.

We offer a variety of services designed to streamline the shipping process and make it as easy as possible to get your goods across the border quickly and efficiently.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you with your intermodal shipping needs.

Freight Quote to Canada: How to Save Money on Your Next Intermodal Delivery from the US to Canada

If you’re looking for a freight quote to Canada, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss how to save money on your next delivery to the neighbors up north.

By following these tips, you can get the best price on shipping and ensure that your goods arrive safe and sound. Let’s get started.

Freight quote to Canada intermodal shipping services: Your Guide to shipping freight to Canada from the US

When it comes to shipping freight to Canada, there are a few things you need to take into account.

First, you need to ensure that your shipping label is properly marked and documented. This includes ensuring that all commodities are accurately classified and that your paperwork is in order.

Next, you need to choose a reputable international shipping company that offers services to Canada.

Be sure to get a freight quote from the intermodal shipping service before you ship your goods.

Finally, you need to make sure that your goods are properly insured for the journey.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience when shipping freight to Canada from the US.

How to Get a Quote for Intermodal Freight Shipping

When you need to ship goods via rail, you need the services of an intermodal freight shipping company.

Intermodal freight shipping is a safe, efficient way to transport goods long distances. But how do you get started? The first step is to get a quote. Here’s how:

First, find a reputable intermodal freight shipping company. You can do this by asking for recommendations from friends or business associates, or by searching online.

Once you’ve found a few companies that look promising, contact them and request a rail quote. Be sure to have the following information ready:

What You Need Before Getting an Intermodal Quote 

Intermodal transportation refers to the shipping of goods using multiple modes of transportation, such as vessel, rail, and truck. It’s a popular choice for many businesses because it can help to reduce costs and transit times.

• The origin and destination of your shipment

• The type and volume of goods you need to ship

• The desired delivery date

Make sure to ask about any additional fees that may apply, such as fuel surcharges or loading/unloading charges. And be sure to include the dimensions, weight, and value of your shipment.

With this information, the shipping company will be able to provide you with a quote for their services. Once you have a few quotes, compare them and choose the company that offers the best value for your needs.

Shipping goods via rail is a great way to save money on your next delivery. By following these steps, you can be sure to get the best quote for your intermodal freight shipping needs.

Tips on Saving Money When Shipping Your Freight Goods

One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is keeping your costs down.

When you’re shipping freight goods, there are a few simple tips that can help you save money.

Be sure to consolidate your shipments whenever possible. This will help you get competitive pricing from your shipping company.

Second, ship your goods during off-peak times. Rates are typically lower during periods of low shipping demand.

Finally, be sure to shop around for the best shipping rates. Compare prices from different shipping companies and choose the one that offers the best value for your needs.

By following these simple tips, you can minimize your shipping costs and keep more money in your pocket.

The Benefits of Using an International Freight Shipping Company

There are many benefits to using an international intermodal company. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it can save you a great deal of money.

By working with an international shipping company that specializes in international shipments, you can get lower rates than you would if you were to ship the items yourself via a single carrier.

In addition, an international freight shipping company can provide a great deal of flexibility when it comes to schedules and routes.

This can be a major advantage if you need to ship items on short notice or if you need to ship items via a specific cross border route.

Finally, an international freight company can provide a great deal of peace of mind. When you work with a reputable company, you can be confident that your items will arrive safely and on time.

Get a Freight Quote to Canada!

Shipping to Canada from the United States? Whether you’re sending commercial cargo or skidded dry goods, you can get a freight rail quote from us in seconds!

We have a wide range of shipping options to choose from, and our experienced team will work with you to find the best solution.

Plus, we offer competitive pricing and discounts for volume shipping. Get started today by getting a freight quote from us! You’ll be glad you did.

Freight shipping in Canada

Canadian intermodal freight is a vital part of the country’s economy, transporting goods and materials to and from all corners of the nation.

Canada’s network of railways, highways, ports, and airports makes it possible to ship freight quickly and efficiently.

Freight shipping companies in Canada offer a variety of services, including container shipping, flatbed shipping, refrigerator shipping, and more.

Whether you’re shipping consumer goods or finished products, there’s an intermodal solution that will meet your needs.

Canadian freight shipping companies are committed to providing safe, reliable service, and they work hard to ensure that your shipments arrive on time and undamaged.

When you choose a Canadian freight shipping company, you can rest assured that your goods will arrive safely and on time.

The Trusted Intermodal Cross Border Company -RailGateway

RailGateway is one of the most trusted intermodal full load providers in the business.

We have a proven track record of success in providing our clients with cost-effective, efficient, and reliable shipping and fulfillment services.

Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing our clients with the highest level of service possible. We’re committed to meeting our clients’ needs and expectations, and we strive to exceed their expectations every time.

We offer our clients a wide range of intermodal services and logistics. We’re confident that we can provide our clients with the best possible service at the most competitive prices.

Request a rail freight quote to learn more about how we can help you with your shipping process.

Ship Freight to and from Canada With Intermodal

Intermodal is a reliable and cost-effective way to transport freight between Canada and the United States and Mexico to Canada.

Intermodal shipping uses a combination of modes of transportation, including rail, truck, and vessel, to move freight.

This method of transport is faster than ocean freight and more economical than air freight.

In addition, intermodal shipping is environmentally friendly, as it emits fewer greenhouse gases than other methods of transportation.

How can I ship freight to Canada?

Freight shipping to Canada can be a straightforward process if you’re familiar with the relevant regulations and procedures.

First, you’ll need to obtain a carrier code from the Canadian Transportation Agency. You’ll also need to register with the Automated Export System and obtain a personal ID number.

Once you have these basics in place, you can begin shipping your freight. Keep in mind that there are some items that are not allowed to be shipped into Canada, such as live animals, weapons, and certain hazardous materials.

You’ll also need to ensure that your shipments are properly labeled and packaged. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in delays or even seizure of your goods.

What are the regulations for shipping freight to Canada?

The regulations for shipping freight to Canada vary depending on the type of goods you are sending and the mode of transportation you’re using.

It’s important to be familiar with the relevant regulations pertaining to your cargo before sending freight, as failure to comply with customs clearance can result in delays or the seizure of your goods.

We’re Canada’s #1 source for freight quotes

If you’re looking for an intermodal freight quote to Canada, look no further than RailGateway.

We’re Canada’s #1 source for intermodal freight quotes, and we can help get your shipment from New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, and Little Rock to where it needs to go, quickly and affordably.

Request a quote today and see how much you can save on your next delivery.


What’s a freight quote?

A freight quote is an estimate of the cost to ship goods by a particular carrier. When sending freight to Canada, it’s important to obtain a freight quote in order to determine the most economical and efficient method for your needs.

What are the benefits of intermodal shipping?

Intermodal is a fast, reliable, and cost-effective way to ship freight between Canada and the United States, and Mexico.

This method of shipping is environmentally friendly, as it emits fewer greenhouse gases than other methods of transportation.

In addition, intermodal shipping is more flexible than other shipping methods, as it allows for shipments to be routed through multiple modes of transportation.

How are freight rates calculated?

Freight rates are calculated based on the weight, dimensions, and value of the goods being shipped. In addition, freight rates may also be affected by the type of shipping container used, the mode of transportation, and the distance traveled.

How is freight cost per container calculated?

Freight cost per container is calculated by dividing the total cost of shipping by the number of containers used. This calculation can be used to compare the cost of shipping between different carriers.

Do you need a customs broker to ship to Canada?

You may need a customs broker to ship to Canada depending on the type of goods you’re shipping and the value of your shipment.

A customs broker can help you navigate customs clearance into Canada and ensure that your shipment is properly labeled and packaged.

What shipping methods are available in Canada?

There are a variety of shipping methods available in Canada, including air freight, ocean freight, and intermodal shipping.

You’ll need to choose the shipping method that best meets your needs based on factors such as time, cost, and the type of goods you are shipping.

How to Get the Best Freight Quote for Your Canada-Bound Shipments

Looking to save on your next freight shipment heading to Canada? RailGateway is the perfect solution! We offer the best freight rates for your Canada-bound shipments.

Contact us today for more information.

Intermodal News: Making Headlines This Year (2023)

The year 2021/22 has been a big one for Intermodal news. The intermodal industry has seen unprecedented change and innovation this past year, with many companies and organizations making headlines for their initiatives and accomplishments. 

From shipping container shortages to the cargo ship that broke international trade, there’s no denying that we’re living in an exciting time for intermodal news!

RailGateway is the #1 choice for full-load intermodal rail transport in Canada and cross border via the Mississippi corridor. For a free no-obligation rail freight quote on how we can help you save, contact us now.

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Intermodal Rail Freight Rate

* Now accepting refrigerated, heated, and temperature-controlled services

Intermodal News and Updates Impacting Your Business and the Intermodal Industry Today.

What will matter in intermodal growth for 2023?

RailGateway has analyzed the latest data to bring you its annual report of the top intermodal transportation trends that will matter in intermodal growth for 2023.

Read the full intermodal trend report here. Talks Intermodal Rail Transport in Canada

In a recent blog post, discusses how businesses can benefit from using intermodal rail transport to move goods during a recession. The post includes statistics and examples that illustrate how choosing this mode of transportation can save companies time and money. RailGateway also offers its opinion on why this is the best supply chain strategy for businesses in Canada who qualify.

Let’s talk about a recession

According to Forbes magazine, inflation and recession are different but are definitely connected. But will a recession and inflation affect the supply chain? Read the full post here.

Best case scenario for the rail service industry

Some analysts are calling the potential recession a ‘best-case’ scenario for the recovery of intermodal rail service.

Canadians banking on less in Q4

In Canada, entrepreneurs are banking on disappointment, stating that Canadians will NOT buy Canadian during a recession.

Is the Intermodal Transportation Industry Ready for a Green Revolution?

The transport sector is a large contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport having the largest share. Regulations and government actions to strengthen the implementation of green solutions in this sector are needed to reduce these emissions and help fight climate change.
Intermodal News EU reports.

Supply Chain Challenges 2022

Brexit, COVID-19, omicron – the world of freight shipping has seen its fair share of headaches these past two years. So what is going to affect global supply chains in 2022?
Read the full story at The Conversation.

The first intermodal freight train via the Caspian Sea to Iran.

Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region debuted the first sea-rail intermodal freight train to Iran. Traveling over 8,500 KMS, the train will cross the Caspian Sea via Kazakhstan before arriving in northern Iran. GlobalTimes

Want a City to Flourish? Invest in Multi-modal Transportation.

Transportation generates more climate-warming greenhouse gases than any other industry in the United States. To reduce emissions by 50-52% by 2030 – the key is multi-modal transportation.

Russia- Ukraine war, freight rates on the rise.

Russian forces close off shipping routes, and limited air capacity will impact intermodal shipping through Europe. CNBC reports here.

The Ukraine/ Russia War shocks ripple across one of the world’s busiest trade lanes.

From London to Warsaw, importers will soon face higher shipping costs, longer delays, and sanctions in the movement of cargo between Europe and Asia. The Economic Times has its full story here.

Canada to help fund rail and port terminal expansion projects in New Brunswick

The Canadian government pledges CA$42 million to two initiatives in Saint John, New Brunswick, and McAdam, New Brunswick, that will boost supply chain efficiency for Canadian shippers.
The full story is here.

Mullen Group Ltd. Announces Multi-Year Intermodal Agreement with Canadian National Railway and APPS Transport

APPS Cartage Inc. and APPS Cargo Terminals Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mullen Group Ltd, announced that they have signed a multi-year contract with CN (TSX:CNR) (NYSE:CNI), the railway, to continue providing intermodal services to APPS Transport.
More on the announcement here.

The Montreal Port Authority and Canadian National reach an agreement in principle to develop the rail component of the Port of Montreal’s Contrecœur expansion

The MPA and Canadian National Railway (CN) have announced that they have struck a deal to link rail transportation at the new container terminal in Contrecœur. This project will assist in improving the terminal’s efficiency while also ensuring a competitive commercial proposition.
Read the full article here.

intermodal containers stacked on top of one another

Domestic containers

A worldwide supply chain crisis has cut off everything from medical supplies to holiday presents, putting a new spin on shipping containers. Read the full post here.

Intermodal traffic

Railyards clog up as delays continue and port congestion worsens. Read more about it here.

Freight capacity

Prices surge, and intermodal transportation capacity dips. Read what’s making waves about logistics demand here.

Truck drivers shortage

Why limited supply has forced shippers to consider higher than average contract rates instead of spot rates. Reporter Max Garland has the full story here.

Intermodal volume and demand

2021 started strong, but September reports show a decrease in volume per IANA studies. Compare both here.

North American Intermodal news

US and Canada see a continued downward trend in intermodal transportation year over year. Click here for full details.

BNSF Railway headlines

BNSF and Wabtec begin testing in California on a battery-powered locomotive. Read more about it here.

Intermodal logistics beyond 2021

The future of intermodal operations and predictions for the next five years to come in railroad and truckload transport. Full article here.

Norfolk Southern in the news

Crew shortages, poorer service – Norfolk has its fair share of struggles in 2021. Read the full article here.

Supply chains

Writer Edwin Lopez deep dives into five years of supply chain management and the lessons learned along the way. Click here to read more.

Are you looking to make a move over to rail shipping? RailGateway is Canada’s #1 choice in full-load intermodal rail transport. Contact us today for an intermodal rail freight quote on how we can help you save.

13 Things You Won’t Like About Intermodal Transportation

This post was last updated on December 23rd, 2022

There are many benefits to intermodal transportation. It creates jobs in industries that depend on shipping goods and is a cost-effective and efficient means of transporting products across Canada and beyond our borders to the US via cross-border shipping.

But there are some downsides too. Intermodal transport can be noisy and cause air pollution when trucks use diesel fuel. And while trains might be more environmentally friendly than other modes of transportation, they are less flexible because railroad tracks are fixed in one location.

In this blog post, we’ll talk frankly about the cons of intermodal freight transportation and how and when rail intermodal shipping should be considered.

Let’s dive in.

Looking to save on your domestic intermodal shipping across Canada? At RailGateway we have unbeatable rates from Ontario to Alberta. Request a quote today to see just how much we can help you save!

What are the disadvantages of intermodal transportation?

1. Speed

One of the main disadvantages of intermodal transportation is speed. Because intermodal transportation involves moving goods between different modes of transport, it can often take longer than if the goods were transported using only one mode. This is because each time the goods are transferred between modes, there is a risk of delays due to weather, traffic, or other problems.

In addition, intermodal transportation often requires specialised equipment, which can add to the time it takes to load and unload the goods.

2. Lack of reliability between intermodal service providers

In order for intermodal transportation to be successful, there needs to be a high level of reliability between the various service providers. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Service providers may be unable to provide the promised level of service, or they may not have the necessary equipment available when it is needed. As a result, intermodal transportation can be less reliable than other methods of transportation, which can lead to delays and additional costs.

In order to improve the reliability of intermodal transportation, service providers need to work together to invest in better coordination and communication.

3. High infrastructure costs

Higher infrastructure costs often cause higher service rates for companies that use intermodal transportation. This is especially true when the use of cranes or other heavy-duty equipment is required to move full-load containers.

Intermodal containers have lowered costs and made it easier for shippers to transport their products by standardizing how they’re packaged, but require they are handled by industrial-sized cranes which could be scarce outside major port cities.

4. The complexity of the intermodal operation

Intermodal transportation is a complex system with many moving parts and without proper service design parameters in place, can become a messy process to clean up afterward.

5. Delivery frequency and intermodal transportation timeliness

Intermodal carriers tend to be less frequent than other types of freight carriers like ground and air. This can cause transportation problems if a customer’s demand is not able to keep up with the limitations of intermodal shipments.

However, with a little planning, a lack of timeliness and urgency can save in the long run.

6. Cargo handling of restricted or prohibited products

Some items are either not allowed to be shipped via intermodal transportation or can only be transported if they’re taken apart and reassembled once reaching their destination.

This makes shipping of hazardous materials difficult, as well as some raw building materials that need to be processed prior to being used on the construction site.

7. Damage during the intermodal shipping process

In most cases, damage can be avoided with proper loading and handling procedures. These procedures can be very difficult to manage in container shipping because of the lack of communication between railcar, yard worker, and truck driver.

Building strong partnerships with the right people is crucial for a successful freight transportation process. When you work together, your shipment will be delivered on time and in good condition!

The best way to minimize risk among all parties involved? Starts by having an engaged intermodal solutions team behind the scenes who knows what they’re doing.

At RailGateway we’ll make sure that everything goes as planned throughout this complex but critical intermodal shipping journey. From origin through to the final destination so that not only are deadlines met, but also customer expectations.

Intermodal transport benefits can often be outweighed by its disadvantages when it comes to damage during the freight shipping process. With the correct logistics company on your side, a single point of contact can help to ensure that everything goes as planned and your freight is delivered on time.

If this sounds like what you’re looking for, contact RailGateway today to get a rail quote today to learn more about how we can help you save.

8. Grievous goods transportation within Canada (environmental hazards)

It’s important to understand that not all dangerous goods are prohibited for transport via road or rail. The rules regarding what hazardous products are allowed vary depending on whether they are transported by highway, rail, or both transport modes.

A product may be allowed for transport as an exception (that means the shipper fills out documentation and seeks permission) if it fits within a series of conditions:

1. The product, although dangerous, has been packaged correctly by the manufacturer;

2. The gross mass of all dangerous products shipped is less than 330 lbs (150kg)

3. It is permitted for transport by other modes of transportation.

4. The dangerous goods being transported are in a quantity or concentration available to the general public.

The two main organizations that regulate the transport of hazardous materials are Transport Canada and the U.S Department of Transportation.

These organizations publish a number of regulations that must be followed in order to safely transport dangerous goods between jurisdictions.

9. Seasonal weather, traffic, congestion, and other environmental factors

Intermodal transportation receives a lot of attention because of concerns about road congestion and traffic safety.

And because infrastructure capacity is limited, traffic flow disruptions (such as collisions, congestion, or road maintenance) might result in delays and complications in any transportation strategy.

Rail infrastructure is becoming increasingly important as the preferred alternative for shipping goods between locations, especially those that require intermodal transport.

It’s easy to see why: trains can move heavy and oversized cargo that would otherwise be unsafe on roads; rail networks are less susceptible to environmental factors such as rain or snow than roadways and they often go through areas that are under-served by road infrastructure.

10. Limited options for smaller shipments

For smaller or LTL (less than truckload) shipments, options for working with an intermodal service provider may be limited.

The smaller the shipment, the less likely it will be that an Intermodal provider will have a candidate to move it. It may require multiple stops, making delivery times more lengthy than FTL options.

However, providers are working hard to provide customers with more flexible service offerings – which is good news for those who need flexibility.

11. Port congestion

Port congestion is a big concern for freight shipping and international trade. Container ships floating waiting for port access, and threats of driver strikes, are all too common in an industry under huge strain due to increased transport costs and a global pandemic.

To improve on this, some providers are offering more innovative transport options, including Intermodal transfers within the port environment itself to maximize terminal space and decongest intermodal container yards.

12. Interference with other modes of transport

Because of their size, Intermodal trains take up a lot of room.

As Intermodal traffic increases, it creates more logistical complexity with railways having to navigate around Intermodal trains on shared lines.

Since Intermodal is so effective at moving goods quickly, this may cause interruptions of other rail services. This can have a negative impact on commercial operations that are reliant on the logistics industry for their deliveries.

13. Concerns about Intermodal service quality

The Intermodal transportation industry could be seen as a price-competitive market; carriers tend to focus on low prices and lower margins in order to win business and stay competitive.

The challenge for Intermodal customers has been positive customer perception and confidence in Intermodal transport delivery standards without negatively impacting cost savings or price competitiveness.

Through innovation in technology, Intermodal carriers have been working hard to raise the customer service standards of Intermodal transportation.

Pros and Cons of Intermodal Transport

Benefits of intermodal freight shipping

There are three major benefits to an intermodal shipment. And the first and foremost is the cost savings.

A further added benefit is sustainability. This is because when one mode of transportation such as rail or ship malfunctions, the other mode will be able to act as backup, thereby reducing any possible damage done to goods.

For a complete list of benefits visit our post ‘Getting Started with Intermodal Transport: The 7 Benefits Beyond What You’ve Heard

The downfall of an intermodal transportation system

It is not uncommon for individuals who want to take advantage of the benefits that come with this type of intermodal transportation mode to lose money.

This occurs when there’s a delay in the delivery time of goods or when working with an inexperienced rail transport partner.

With RailGateway as your intermodal freight shipper, you’re guaranteed unparalleled service that saves you money while providing a reliable solution for all of your supply chain needs.

Our extensive network provides a single point of contact to develop the most extensive and comprehensive rail program for our clients. And with over 40 years of combined rail experience are rates are unmatched across Canada.

The Importance of Intermodal Transportation

Besides low transportation costs, fuel efficiency, and the positive environmental impact that rail transportation and intermodal transportation services offer, planning and executing large-scale projects is also a huge plus when considering intermodal shipping.

In 2019, the Canadian rail industry carried more than 332 million tonnes of freight and assisted in the delivery of $205 billion worth of Canadian products to markets all around North America and throughout the world through a network of intermodal terminals (rail, ship, and truck).

With some of the most competitive rail transportation costs in the world, Canadian businesses (and as a happy side-effect, consumers) saved billions of dollars with intermodal freight transportation.

Multimodal Transportation and Intermodal Transport Mode explained

Intermodal freight transport, which combines multiple modes of transit into a single journey, is critical to the delivery process. It enables accurate routing and reduces handling costs.

While only using one carrier can provide the most efficient transportation method while also reducing paperwork, sometimes it’s preferable to use several different transport carriers for optimum overall shipping cost but with greater logistic coordination work.

Multimodal Transportation is the term used to describe the transport of goods using two or more modes. The carriers involved in an intermodal transportation chain should be compatible with each other so that they can deliver items safely and efficiently together. While truckload freight companies are common partners for railroads, truck carriers are also linked with steamships to increase flexibility.

How to Choose the Right Mode of Transport for Your Needs

Intermodal shipping has always been a difficult decision to make. You have to take into account the pros and cons of all transportation modes, including road freight transport, rail, river transportation, and airfreight.

Factors you need to take into account when making the choice between intermodal shipping logistics companies are:

– Availability of raw materials for various modes of transportation.

– Economical properties, fuel efficiency, modal systems of each mode.

– Geographical access of all intermodal providers.

– Security of cargo during the transportation process.

– Ease of logistics.

When making the choice to switch to intermodal freight shipping or rail freight shipping, you need to take into account all the factors above and compare them with the benefits offered by each model.

Before switching to using intermodal freight shipping or rail freight shipping, your company must have a good understanding of the financial aspects of using each model.

For example, if you ship commercially sensitive or high-value shipments that need to be transported quickly, then air freight transport might be best for your business due to its ability to move products at high speeds.

If you’re shipping large quantities of goods, then it might be better for your business to use intermodal rail shipping due to its large capacity which can provide significant savings.

Another important factor when choosing between intermodal shipping and rail freight transportation is the security aspect of transporting your goods.

If your company needs high-security transport, then modes such as sea or road transport might be better than modes such as air transport, where security can sometimes be compromised.

Switching to using intermodal freight shipping or rail freight shipping could benefit your business in many ways.

When should you consider using rail freight for shipping your products across Canada?

Rail freight services are utilized by a wide range of clients and transport a diverse variety of items and commodities. Power generating companies, construction companies, retailers, and fruit wholesalers are all frequent users of rail freight services.

Railways play a strategic role in Canada’s economy and are the most efficient and dependable form of transportation, moving 70% of the nation’s surface goods.

The railways are an important part of Canada’s history and were instrumental in the growth and development of the country. Canada’s geography makes the railways an invaluable resource for moving cargo from one part of the country to another and especially over long distances.

Curious if making the switch to rail is right for your business? Contact one of our RailGateway intermodal shipping experts today for more information on how rail can help reduce costs.

The shipping industry continues to baffle the average consumer. There are so many modes of transportation which makes it hard to determine what mode will be the most cost-efficient, economical, and safe.

The world of intermodal and multimodal transportation is no different. It can be confusing to know what options are available and if they will meet your specific company’s needs.

Choosing the right mode of transport is difficult for any business. If you’re not sure if switching to using either modal service would help improve efficiency in your company, feel free to contact our team of rail experts who are ready and waiting to answer any questions or concerns regarding this topic.

We look forward to hearing from you!December

Intermodal Services Explained

When it comes to the shipping industry, there are various ways to transport goods from place A to place B. However, as data has shown us, the most efficient method for cargo transportation is through intermodal transportation. What is intermodal transportation? How does it work? And when should businesses use it? 

To put it simply, you have a container on a ship, train, or truck. That’s intermodal transportation. But why does that matter? There are multiple modes of transport and combinations thereof.

Intermodal transportation is efficient because it takes advantage of the best features of each mode. A truck can drive on land, while a ship can transport cargo internationally, and a train provides the ability to move heavy-weight cargo over long distances quickly. 

When thinking about transportation this way, intermodal transportation is essentially an entire industry within an industry. Transportation is the backbone of most industries, so it’s important to understand how intermodal transportation works if you are in business.

Types of Intermodal Services 

1. Door to Door Intermodal Services 

Door-to-door (D2D) shipping involves picking up the product at the vendor’s doorstep and delivering it to the recipient’s doorstep. D2D services typically operate between a limited number of pick-up and delivery locations.

D2D intermodal Shipping provides combinations of services and modes of transport for an integrated door-to-door service. For example, a product may be shipped by truck or rail to a local depot, where it’s consolidated with other consignments destined for the same area before being loaded onto a ship. 

The vessel might then stop at other major ports to pick up consignments for an inland area before being delivered to the final destination. This term also covers a combination of services and other transportation modes that allow consistent end-to-end delivery.

To provide this door-to-door service, shippers and carriers often enter into a contract known as a “through bill of lading,” which defines all aspects of how the shipment is handled. The document serves as a contract of carriage between a shipping company and the carrier. 

2. Terminal Direct Intermodal Service

Direct intermodal service involves both the terminal and an intermodal yard. This is typical of a direct point-to-point or loop route with ISO containers or trailers loaded at shippers’ premises, transported to an intermodal terminal, and then delivered by rail or motor carriers to another location.

The most significant advantage of direct service is that it affords cargo owners to have their goods delivered directly from customer premises onto trains and trucks without any intervening transfer operations by shippers themselves. This reduces handling costs for both the railroad and its customers. It also provides flexibility in that if market conditions warrant, the railroad can substitute truck service when train schedules are interrupted.

Direct intermodal rail service is generally available in most areas served by Class I and Class II railroads in Canada. Intermodal shippers submit their load information to a central computer dispatch system that coordinates shipments, improving planning and scheduling capabilities.

3. Domestic Intermodal Service

Domestic intermodal service denotes the domestic movement of a container or trailer, using various modes of transportation and at least one connecting carrier.

Domestic intermodal service begins when the shipping customer delivers the cargo to a local pick-up location, such as a warehouse or rail yard. The carrier then reloads the cargo at a rail yard, port, airport, etc. This load is then delivered to a second location using another method of transportation. 

4.International Intermodal Service 

International intermodal service means global movement of a container or trailer, using more than one mode of transportation and at least one connecting carrier.

International intermodal service begins when the shipping customer delivers the cargo to a local pick-up. The carrier then reloads the cargo at a rail yard, port, airport, etc. This load is then delivered to a second location using another method of transportation such as ocean intermodal freight and delivery via truck to its final destination.

Pros and Cons of Using Intermodal Transport

While intermodal transportation is the most efficient method for shipping cargo, there are still some cons to using this type of transport. Here are some pros and cons of using intermodal transportation as a whole:


  • Efficient for shipping cargo of any size, shape, or weight.
  • This transportation mode reduces the carbon footprint of shipping by taking advantage of trains and ships which already exist.
  • Containers are often fitted with security devices to keep cargo safe.
  • Intermodal container transportation is cheaper, especially considering the long distances covered.
  • Convenient for people who deal in international trade; reduces the time it takes for products to reach their destination.
  • Containers can be used as self-contained storage that can withstand different environmental conditions.


  • There are high structural costs–ships, trains, and trucks are expensive.
  • Requires long-term planning to ensure that shipping schedules are met.
  • Requires large supply chains, complex financial transactions, complex service relationships, etc.

The Nature of Intermodal Transportation in Canada

Transport is integral to the Canadian economy. Goods transport has increased substantially because of North America’s open economies and Canada’s access to foreign markets. Goods represent a substantial part of the transportation process.

Intermodal transportation is an integral part of the transport picture in Canada. Containers and trailers play a major role in the domestic and international movement of goods by offering advantages such as flexibility, reliability, and economies of scale.

Companies are beginning to adopt intermodal transportation due to its benefits over other forms of transportation. This intermodal movement has a positive impact on the economy in Canada and abroad. And as global online trade and commerce grow, intermodal transportation and shipping will be a crucial element in the growth and success of the logistics industry.

Intermodal Contracts for Beginners

When you think about freight transportation, two terms come into mind; intermodal and multimodal transportation. Both transport methods involve moving your shipment from the origin to the destination using several methods in between.

These transportation methods can include rail, ship, barge, truck, or a combination of transport carriers. And can also mean different carriers were used to transport the goods at every stage of the journey.

Not only do you have to pick the ideal intermodal shipping process for your firm, but you must also select the best intermodal contract rates available. Let us help you decide.

What is Intermodal Freight Transportation?

Intermodal transportation refers to two or more transportation modes to move cargo from one intermodal terminal in the original country to another destination, often in another country. The unique characteristic of the intermodal shipping process is that every step of the process has a different provider with a separate contract.

Several businesses use the intermodal shipping method to get their cargo to the final destination. One of the reasons for choosing intermodal pricing is because it reduces freight costs. It also reduces the amount of handling on your cargo throughout the trip. The method also allows drivers to deal with more loads at reduced periods.

The critical difference between intermodal transportation and truckload shipping is the harmonic vibrations. The vibration on the rail transportation segment can move the freight vertically, laterally, and longitudinally. If your cargo is not braced or blocked properly, the harmonic vibrations will move it, unlike truckload transportation. The movement can cause overweight problems for the shippers and lead to damages.

Blocking and bracing your cargo correctly isn’t complex. It can be as simple as using some wood blocks and the right size of nails.

Is intermodal shipping service complicated?

There is a misunderstanding that the cargo transportation method is complicated because of the many steps involved in moving cargo. However, the process has become less cumbersome and more efficient.

Intermodal providers use data analysis to make transportation adjustments on their end, or they can make recommendations on improving the process from your end. Additionally, the intermodal provider will evaluate key performance indicators to help you make critical improvements to your business.

Benefits of Using the Intermodal Freight Transportation

  • It is a cheaper than truckload
  • Enhanced security
  • optimizes the truck and rail efficacy
  • Minimizes highway congestion
  • Sustainable
  • Easy to monitor
  • Uses environmentally friendly carriers

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) outlines the journey while using intermodal transport starting from the manufacturer where you fix the container to a chassis. It’s loaded with freight, and a dray motor carrier drives it to the origin railroad ramp. When the container gets to the intermodal ramp, it’s moved from the chassis and loaded onto a well car.

The intermodal container then moves across the railroad network using the train cars until the final destination. Once the container gets to the destination, a truck carries and delivers it to its final destination.

Types of Intermodal Services 

Intermodal services come in two types: Container-on-Flatcar (COFC) and Trailer-on-Flatcar (TOFC). In the latter, you place the Over-the-road trailer onto the well car.

COFC became prominent in the 1980s because of its cost-effectiveness to load four containers on a well car.

Common Issues Around Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal transportation comes with its advantages and disadvantages. However, some are not disadvantages but are misconceptions that people in the freight market share regarding the intermodal journey.

It’ll be best to evaluate the value that intermodal transportation adds to your business. Some of the misconceptions about intermodal transportation include:

Unreliable Service 

Shippers that are not conversant with the shipping method think of railroad transport as slow. However, the intermodal service is reputable for its timely deliveries that beat the truckload. Rail transit has precise schedules that ensure your freight gets to its destination on time. The railroad also has the advantage of consistent planning over a long time.

Long Times on Transit 

Unfortunately, intermodal freight transportation has been a slow method over time. The reputation is born from a belief from shippers that since the mode of transport is on the rail, it’ll feature the same transit that railcars have.

However, railroads are aware of their competition by truckload. So they strive to offer a different service using the intermodal method.

Intermodal transportation on a single railroad is the same as a truckload transit plus one day. If the intermodal freight is intertwined between two railroads, the transportation is the same as truckload transit plus another two days. Some intermodal lanes offer you the same transit that you get from truckload. Furthermore, unlike the truckload, the railroads will move even on weekends, meaning a slow transportation method is a misconception.

Loss and Damage 

One of the concerns that shippers have with a freight transportation method is the loss and damage of their cargo. It’ll be best if the transportation method offers optimum freight safety.

As mentioned earlier, the element of vibrations on the rail segment of intermodal can move the freight longitudinally, vertically, and laterally. If you don’t block and brace the cargo properly, the vibrations can damage and cause overweight issues.


Another misconception regarding intermodal transportation is that it is complicated. The complication is seen in the various steps to get cargo from the origin to the final destination.

However, there is no complication as the transportation process has become efficient over time. Additionally, your transport provider will make the necessary adjustments to your strategy, or they can recommend how you can adjust to make the journey more effective. The recommendations come from data analysis, making them ideal for improving your business.

Intermodal freight transportation is an excellent option if you want to move your cargo from origin to its final destination. It is not uncommon to confuse intermodal and multimodal transport methods.

One of the key differences is that intermodal involves using different modes, including rail and truck transport. It can also involve various contracts at every step of the journey. The method is safe, reliable and will get your shipment to its final destination on time.

Intermodal vs Truckload Shipments: Choosing the Right Delivery For Your Cargo

This post was last updated on May 17th, 2022

Whether you need to ship loose materials across the county or send a couple of pallets from Montreal to Edmonton’s intermodal terminal, rail and truckload shipping are the two primary methods for moving goods.

But it’s important not to use one method or the other as a “one size fits all” solution. These modes of transport have their own benefits and drawbacks.

We know deciding which delivery method is suitable for your shipment can be difficult, so we hope this blog post will help you make an informed decision.

What are intermodal shipping and truckload shipping?

The most important thing for you to know about intermodal vs truckload shipping carriers is that they are not made equal.

Intermodal freight carriers move goods from one mode of transportation to another without ever unloading the merchandise, thanks to intermodal containerization.

While OTR’s (over-the-road trucking carriers) provide truckload shipments, meaning the merchandise will be moved in a loaded trailer, from origin to destination, or from warehouses to intermodal trains or depots.

What are the key differences between truckload shipping and intermodal shipping?

You’ve probably heard this before, rail is cheaper than truck transport, but when does over-the-road trucking make more sense in a supply chain strategy?

Truckload shipping is ideal for time-sensitive shipments, high-value freight that will travel a short distance. Because truckload carriers’ schedules are more flexible, they can collect and deliver freight at more convenient times.

Intermodal transportation requires more planning and is ideal for high-volume shipments that aren’t time-sensitive and can travel a long distance without damage.

Because intermodal containers are the same size and can be lifted by a crane, it’s easy to transfer freight from one truck or train to another without unloading and reloading the cargo.

When to choose truckload?

  • More than 80 km (or 50 miles) from an intermodal ramp but less than 800 km or 500 miles to the final destination.
  • Urgent, last-minute, time-sensitive shipments where speed is the most important logistics factor.
  • Perishable goods or freight within proper storage containers on short or demanding transit times.
  • Inconvenient intermodal ramp locations

When to choose intermodal?

  • If you have a predictable intermodal shipment schedule that is frequent and where freight spend is the most important logistics factor.
  • For larger intermodal freight shipments with longer transit times or irregular/ unpredictable shipments that do not require urgent delivery.
  • Delivery distance is more than 800 km or 500 miles.
  • A desire to offset carbon footprint or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the main criteria to make an informed decision?

When comparing intermodal vs truckload shipping, companies should take into account 3 key factors:

– Distance: How far will the freight travel? What’s the distance from the origin to the final destination?

– Size and weight: What is the size of the shipment? How large is the item being shipped? What is the total weight?

– Convenience and time lime: What’s the best route? What’s the delivery window? How urgently do the goods need to be delivered?

Which option is best for your business?

For moving freight in a non-time-sensitive way and for a long distance, most intermodal providers will offer you lower transportation costs. Intermodal shipments also have better fuel efficiency, a lighter carbon footprint, and a safer shipping service than truckload shipping.

However, choose truckload if prices are non of your concern but you intend to ship on short distances and if you are worried about the deadline of your delivery. Indeed, truckload transit time is usually faster than with intermodal transportation, and it is much easier to find a truck when you need one.

Moving from Truckload to Intermodal Rail

Is intermodal cheaper than truckload?

In many cases, intermodal transportation is cheaper and more fuel-efficient than other logistic modes. But it’s not always the right fit or solution.

Contact one of our logistics experts to discuss your specific needs and see if intermodal is the right choice for you.

What is intermodal shipping?

Intermodal shipping is the movement or transportation of goods using more than one mode of transport (rail, truck, ship, air).

Curious if intermodal is right for your business? Read our post about when and why you should make the switch.

What is the difference between drayage and intermodal?

Both terms refer to the movement of goods. Drayage, the movement of cargo over a short distance. And intermodal, the complete shipment journey over a longer distance.

Please read our guide on intermodal terms and phrases everyone getting started with intermodal should know.

What is meant by truckload?

Truckload freight is cargo that fills a truck or part of a truck. The term usually applies to shipments too large to move by rail.

What does FTL or LTL mean in shipping terms?

FTL stands for full truckload, while LTL, less than a full truckload. This term references the cargo, goods, products, or raw materials.

With a full truckload, the goods of a client fill the entire truck or intermodal container. On the contrary, with less than full truckload shipments, only part of a truck is loaded by a client. This means that in order for the truck to be more cost and fuel-efficient, the service provider has to contract and fill his truck with loads from other businesses too.

Read our guide on picking the right shipping terms for your needs.

The benefits of intermodal offer great reasons to be switching up your game to conquer further away locations. But moving from truckload to intermodal rail can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Luckily, there are many affordable options for shipping that may work better.

If you’re considering moving your company over to a more environmentally friendly method of transporting goods by opting for the cheaper option of switching over to intermodal transportation, contact one of our logistics experts today!

We’ll help you find the best solution based on your needs and budget.