Tips to Save Money on Cross Canada Intermodal Shipping Costs

Cross Canada intermodal shipping is essential in navigating the financial and logistical challenges of transporting goods across the country’s vast and diverse landscapes. Particularly for businesses that depend on a constant influx of supplies, and individuals who frequently send items, the costs can escalate due to Canada’s varied climates and geographical expansiveness which demand additional manpower and resources. But by utilizing intermodal shipping, the complexity and cost of these shipments can be significantly alleviated, ensuring a more efficient and reliable delivery process across the nation.

Amidst all this, companies and people requiring constant shipment have found ways to reduce freight shipping costs and direct the funds to other departments to grow their business. This comprehensive guide explores strategies companies can use to trim shipping costs and still receive premium services.

Compare Shipping Carriers

Canada has plenty of shipping companies, each offering different rates. Comparing their rates and choosing the one that aligns with your budget is a great way to reduce shipping costs. With companies like, CP Rail, CN Rail, and North Atlantic International you have many options, each offering different pricing and delivery speeds. 

Take Advantage of Shipping Discounts

More often, shipping companies offer discounts for special occasions, like Christmas, Halloween, or Black Friday. They also have schemes favouring e-commerce, nonprofit, and healthcare companies, as they ship things frequently and in large batches. Talk to all freight shipping companies and see which has an existing discount that you can exploit. 

Negotiate Shipping Rates

Although shipping companies seem to have fixed freight shipping rates, they allow room for negotiation for companies and individuals who ship frequently. Contact the sales department with your proposal to determine if they can offer a deal. Ensure you estimate the package quantity you intend to ship and how often. 

Utilize Online Shipping Tools

Shipping companies often offer discounts when you book their shipping services online. Additionally, their online shipping tools have extra benefits like scheduling pickups, generating shipping labels and tracking your shipment. Taking advantage of these tools helps reduce the overall shipping expenses compared to manually. It also reduces the time to process your shipping as you’ll have access to all the tools you need for the work. 

Use Consolidation Services

Small and medium-sized businesses that cannot afford to hire an entire shipping container can take advantage of the consolidation services, where goods heading to the same destination are grouped in one container. Such an arrangement reduces the shipping cost while ensuring goods reach their destination safely. Consolidation services help freight goods across Canada at a fraction of the cost.

Contact your ideal freight shipping company regarding this arrangement to determine if any packages are shipping to your preferred destination. 

Leverage Shipping Software

Going through every freight transportation company manually to find the best shipping rates is tiresome and requires a lot of dedication. If you’re a busy person who would rather focus on the productive side of your business, it makes sense to utilize shipping software, like Transport Management Systems (TMS), that automates the entire process for you. The program compares the existing shipping companies and chooses the one with the preferable rates. 

Try Alternative Shipping Methods

Canada still offers alternative shipping methods like intermodal transportation and rail shipping. Although these methods take time, they’re still cost-effective, making them ideal for trimming shipping costs. However, you should only consider these options if you do not require expedited freight shipping or have huge packages that are expensive to ship using other means. 

How to Choose a Canada Shipping Company

Working with the right Canadian freight shipping company is crucial to any business’s success. Besides offering reliable shipping experiences, these companies also ensure the goods reach their destination safely, and they would update you of any delay if it happens.

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing the right Canada shipping company:

Shipping Requirements and Needs

Consider your shipping needs, like international or domestic shipping, the urgency of shipping, and the nature of the package shipping. Consider working with a company offering expedited services if you want quick delivery. If you want special requirements like refrigeration, choose companies offering temperature-controlled shipping.

Service Coverage

Only work with a shipping company that delivers to your preferred destination. Are you planning to ship to remote areas? Does the company service coverage extend to those areas? What about shipping cross-border services? These are questions you should ask yourself before working with any shipping company. Also, please talk with your customs broker since they usually have the correct information about these companies.

Pricing and Cost

Cost is the most critical aspect to consider when choosing a shipping company. Do they have favourable rates? Do they offer discounts? Can you negotiate shipping rates with the company? These questions will help you sieve out shipping companies not aligning with your current shipping budget. 

Insurance and Liability

Goods in transit get damaged often, and choosing a company with reliable insurance and liability cover is crucial. However, you must understand the company’s liability coverage of damaged and lost goods. 

Clarify if they cover damaged or lost goods, their claims process, and requirements. It’s also best to purchase additional insurance for sentimental and valuable goods that might be too much for a shipping company to cover. 

Customer Service and Support

A great shipping company should have outstanding customer service that is always available and helps with issue resolution. Customer support also helps with package tracking, ensuring packages reach their destination on time. 

Reliability and Track Record

A reliable company is one with a track record of success, mainly expressed through customer reviews from people who have used the services before. Does the company have an excellent track record on delivery, customer satisfaction, and resolving issues? These are some questions that will help you choose the right shipping company. 

Additional Services

Some Canadian shipping companies are known for offering extra services like customs clearance, which is handy in any supply chain. British Columbia shipping companies would work with a customs broker to ensure goods reached on time. The customs broker also helps create and verify the customs bond, showing that you have complied with all requirements when importing goods.

Cross Canada Shipping

Shipping goods from or across Canada can be expensive, but you can reduce this cost by comparing rates and choosing the affordable one. Shipping discounts, consolidated services, shipping software, and alternative shipping methods are great ways to save shipping costs. When choosing a shipping company, it’s best to consider your shipping needs and requirements, service coverage, cost, insurance, customer services, and reliability. Remember, it’s always best to have more than one shipping company in your profile to avoid the future dangers of dealing with only one company. 


Intermodal Definitions: Your Go-To Guide for Terminology and Definitions

Do you know the definition of intermodal? How about breakbulk, or even drayage? If not, then this is the post for you.

We built this handy go-to guide to define and explain all the terms anyone would need to know regarding intermodal transportation. You need to know the terminology’s meaning to ensure you get all the important details of cargo transportation.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro at intermodal shipping, just getting started in freight logistics, or want a better understanding of what intermodal means, read on!

The RailGateway Dictionary to Intermodal Transportation

20 Definitions for Anyone Getting Started in Intermodal Freight Shipping.

One of the most challenging parts of intermodal freight transportation is that there are many terms and acronyms to know. This can make it hard for anyone to understand what’s happening, no matter how experienced they are. 

That’s why we created this intermodal glossary. We define all the words you need to know when working with intermodal freight transport.

* The following definitions are not in alphabetical order but mimic the flow of an intermodal freight shipping process.


Intermodal refers to a transportation method involving more than one form of transport during a single trip.

Intermodal broker

An intermodal broker is a company that helps shippers and receivers connect with carriers to move goods.

They act as the go-between, facilitating the process and taking a commission or fee while providing discounts and preferred rates.

Freight forwarder

A freight forwarder is a company that books shipments and manages intermodal transport.

They manage intermodal shipping logistics by providing access to rail lines, trucks, cargo vessels, and warehouses. A good intermodal partner will also provide regular updates on your shipment and additional services, such as insurance for your cargo.


The party to which freight is delivered. The consignor delivers the freight to the consignee (recipient).

Consignor (or shipper)

The individual or organization shipping freight to a consignee.


Containerization is a means of intermodal freight transport using container-sized units to handle cargo. This system allows intermodal transportation to function more smoothly.

Intermodal container

Intermodal containers are freight transport units that can be used across different modes. They’re reusable and interchangeable and come in a range of standard sizes. The 20 ft equivalent unit (TEU) is the most common intermodal container.

RaileGateway specializes in 53′ and 40-high cube dry van intermodal containers. Request your free quote here on how we can help you save on your rail transportation costs.

Container interchanges

A miscalculation can happen, and sometimes, a carrier can end up with a surplus of containers at a particular location while other carriers have free space and active requirements.

In that way, a container interchange is an agreement where a carrier transfers one or more of his extra containers to be shipped onto another’s carrier vehicle.


Breakbulk cargo refers to goods that are not shipped in containers. This cargo is handled and transported individually instead of consolidated into a container.

Intermodal ramp

An intermodal ramp is a loading dock at an intermodal facility that allows cargo transfer between rail or road vehicles.

When a container arrives at an intermodal ramp, it is unloaded from either the train or truck it was on to be put onto another one and shipped to another ramp or directly to the final destination.

Intermodal vehicle

An intermodal vehicle is specially designed for intermodal transport and may include features like multiple axles, front or rear-mounted cranes, or multiple floors, allowing for double-stacked containers.

They can be trucks, container ships, trains, or cargo aircraft, which cover the four modes of transportation used by intermodal freight logistics companies.

Full truckload shipment

In the trucking industry, a full truckload shipment is one in which the whole vehicle is used to transport a given quantity of goods.

In intermodal rail transportation, a full load is a shipment where a single shipper’s cargo is transported in the same container.

Less than truckload intermodal shipments

A less-than-truckload shipment is when the quantity of goods fills only part of the truck or container (rail).

Shipping consolidation

Shipping consolidation is a freight transportation strategy that combines multiple shipments into a larger shipment, eliminating the need to pay for multiple smaller shipments.


The last-mile delivery is the final leg of a product’s journey to the customer and is typically the most expensive. With more flexibility on the road, truck drivers are typically responsible for the last-mile delivery during an intermodal service route.

Accessorial Charges

An accessorial charge is an additional fee included in an intermodal transport invoice by logistics companies for services over and above a standard pick-up.

They include but are not limited to storage, scale fees, and detention. Check out our blog post here for a complete guide to accessorial charges.


This is the total cost of transporting intermodal freight containers a short distance and includes accessorial services and expenses such as receiving, loading, unloading, and other transport terminal and rail yard costs.

Dry bulk cargo

Dry bulk cargo in intermodal shipping involves the transportation of commodities such as coal and grain in large quantities. Other examples of dry bulk freight are sand, gravel, salt, sugar, cement, etc.

Raw materials

Raw material intermodal shipments often refer to dry bulk cargo.

Dangerous goods (Environmental Hazards)

A dangerous good is a cargo with special requirements regarding transport and packaging for safety reasons and environmental damage prevention.

Other Terms That You Can Come Across in Intermodal Shipping Are:

Agent- a person with limited or complete authority who handles a business on behalf of another company.

Bill of Lading- a legal contract between the carrier, broker, agent, and shipping company.

Classification- this is a technique used for shipments that are less than truckloads.

Transit time- the total amount of time spent from the distribution centre to the delivery point

Axle Load- this is the weight of the axle put on highways

Brokerage license- A legal document that a broker should have before making any freight shipping arrangement

Cartage- cargo that is transported within the same city or locality

Concealed damage- damage that is seen when the package is opened

Interline- This is where the primary carrier transfers the shipment to another carrier before it reaches its destination.

Adjustments- these are expenses that arise after delivery of the cargo. It is also the difference between the first figure quoted at the distribution centre and the final amount paid in the final delivery.

Blind shipment- In a blind shipment, the shipper and receiver are strangers. They get all the information needed from the Bill of Lading document.

Bulk Freight- This is the intermodal cargo that isn’t in a container ship. This freight could be sand or crude oil.

Nested- Loading of materials so that one item gets inside another. Nesting is mainly done in less than truckload shipping and helps reduce the total space occupied.

Volume rate- this is the term used to measure intermodal cargo if they are less than truckload.

Beneficial Cargo Owner- the actual owner of the intermodal freight that is being shipped.

Outgate- this is the process of checking a container out of an intermodal facility

Tank car- This is a car that is used in intermodal shipment of compressed or liquid cargo

Good to Know Intermodal Transport Acronyms

(AAR) – The Association of American Railroads

(APGCI) – Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative Canada

(ATAC) – Air Transport Association of Canada

(BoL) – Bill of lading

(BCO)- Beneficial Cargo corner

 (eBL) – Electronic bill of lading

(BTS) – Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(CAGR) – Compound Annual Growth Rate

(COFC) – Container on a flatcar

(CTA) – Canadian Transportation Agency

(CTA) – Canadian Trucking Alliance

(FTA) – Free trade agreement

(FTL) – Full truckload

(IANA) – Intermodal Association of North America

(ISO) – International Organization for Standardization. ISO is technically not an acronym. It refers to the ancient Greek term “ísos,” which means equal or equivalent to. For a complete list of ISO general-purpose containers, click here.

(LTL) – Less than a full truckload

(MTO) – Multimodal transport operator

(RAC) – Railway Association of Canada

(TAC) – Transportation Association of Canada

(TEU) – Twenty-foot equivalent unit. This is a calculation based on the measurements of a 20ft standard shipping container.

(THC) – Terminal handling charges

(TOFC) – Trailer on a flat car

Intermodal Transportation: FAQs

Why Is It Called Intermodal?

The term intermodal is derived from the Latin words “inter” (meaning between) and “modus” (meaning way). The intermodal definition can then refer to a way of moving goods easily, changing modes of transportation.

What Are the Four Intermodal Means of Transportation?

Rail, water, road, and air are the four intermodal transportation means.

What Are the Intermodal Transportation Advantages?

Shipping intermodal containers using an effective and thoughtful combination of those four transportation methods for domestic and international shipments can significantly reduce costs, be more ecological, protect your cargo better, and show excellent fuel efficiency, especially if rail service is involved.

What Is the Difference Between Intermodal and Multimodal Transport?

Multimodal transport is the transportation of goods using more than one mode of transport with a single carrier. While intermodal shipping specifically refers to shipments handled by several different shipping companies.

What Is Intermodal Shipping vs. Transloading?

Intermodal shipping involves moving containers between trucks and trains to transfer goods. Transloading, however, involves moving individual items from one container to another between two or more modes.

What Role Does a Cargo Ship Play in Intermodal Transportation?

Cargo ships are merchant vessels carrying goods, supplies, and materials between ports, handling international shipping trade between countries. Ocean carriers are often the first step in the receiver’s intermodal freight journey. Or as the last step in a sender fulfilling their shipping obligations.

Why Is Intermodal Transport Necessary for Economic Growth in the Shipping Industry?

From automobiles to food, luxury items such as toys and electronics are frequently delivered via ocean freight. Maritime shipping accounts for 53% of U.S. imports and 38% of U.S. exports — more than any other logistics shipping method. 

Once a shipment arrives in port, it is the role and responsibility of the intermodal carrier to move and distribute products and goods effectively to prevent congestion and delays.  

Want to know more about RailGateway? Looking for a competitive intermodal freight transportation quote? Request your FREE, no-obligation offer here. We ensure the highest level of privacy and security for your cargo. 

Modes of Transportation: How to Choose the Best Options for Your Supply Chain

When it comes to choosing the best mode of transportation for your supply chain, there are a lot of factors to consider. As with anything in life and business, each option has pros and cons you must weigh before deciding. The mode of transportation you select determines the transit time, cost incurred, and environmental impact. Additionally, it determines the risk exposure and customer satisfaction. Therefore, you will need to pick the transportation mode that fits each of these considerations.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the most common modes of transportation used in logistics and outline the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

By the end, you should have a better understanding of which option is best for your business. Scroll down to read more.

The 7 Modes of Transportation

There are 7 transportation modes you can use for supply chain transport. These are:

  1. Air transportation or air transport

  2. Rail transportation (passenger and freight)

  3. Ship transport (also known as maritime shipping or maritime transportation)

  4. Road transport or truckload

  5. Water transport (barges and canals)

  6. Intermodal transportation(a combination of road transportation and freight trains)

  7. Multimodal transport (a combination of multiple modes of transportation methods)

What Are the Different Modes of Transport in Logistics?

There are four main modes of transport in logistics: truck, ship, train, and air. The best option for a particular shipment will depend on several factors.

Trucks are the most versatile mode of transport, as they can be used for shipments of all sizes and types. Additionally, they come with different modes like truckload and less-than-truckload. However, trucking is also an expensive option. It can also be subject to traffic or inclement weather delays.

Ships are best suited for oversized shipments and international trade that need to be transported over long distances. Maritime transport is relatively slow but cost-effective.

Trains are an efficient and environmentally friendly option for shipping freight that needs to be transported over long distances, typically 1000+ km or 750 miles. Rail transport is also fast and reliable, but it can be expensive, and routes are limited. In addition, train schedules can be inflexible, making it challenging to coordinate shipments.

Industries shipping large volumes or requiring the movement of heavy goods preferably use railway and road transportation (also known as intermodal transportation) and shipping by sea over other modes. This method can accommodate larger materials, thus becoming an ideal alternative to air travel, which is better suited for parcel shipping and small packages.

Air freight is the fastest of the transport modes but also the most expensive. It’s best suited for time-sensitive shipments that need to be delivered to remote locations where trains and transport cars cannot service.

Now that we’ve gone over the different modes of transportation let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Truck Transportation

Truck transportation is the most popular mode of transport in North America, as it offers several advantages, including:

  • Trucks can transport shipments of all sizes and types.

  • Trucking is a door-to-door service, which means your shipment will be delivered directly to the recipient’s location.

  • Trucking is relatively fast and provides a high degree of flexibility when it comes to delivery times.

  • Trucks can transport shipments to and from remote locations that are not serviced by other modes of transport.

  • Packing, shipping, and offloading a truckload is easier than other transport modes.

  • There are fewer transport restrictions.

  • It is easier to track your cargo through GPS when using road transport.

  • It is highly accessible as every country has road transport modes compared to sea or rail transport.

However, trucking also has a few drawbacks, including:

  • With gas and petrol prices at an all-time high, trucking is an expensive mode of transport.

  • Trucking can be subject to travel restrictions and delays due to traffic or weather conditions.

  • It is not ideal for trans-global transportation of the supply chain.

  • There are size and weight limits on some roads.

  • There is a higher risk of accidents and mechanical problems compared to other modes of transportation.

  • Trucking is at the highest risk of invasion by criminals compared to rail, sea, or air transport.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Rail Transportation

Rail transportation is a fast and efficient way to move freight, and it offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Rail transport is faster and more cost-effective than trucking, making it ideal for long-distance shipments.

  • It is more energy-efficient, which makes it better for the environment.

  • Rail transport is more reliable and predictable than trucking, as trains run on set schedules.

  • Trains have a higher carrying capacity and are ideal for bulk cargo and large quantities of raw materials. There are huge containers that enable the carrying of oversized cargo.

  • This mode of transport has a low impact on the environment.

  • It supports intermodal transportation. However, you will need to have a reliable intermodal carrier.

Of course, this mode also has a few drawbacks, including:

  • Rail transport can be more expensive than trucking.

  • The routes for rail transport are limited, which can make it challenging to coordinate shipments.

  • Train schedules can be inflexible.

  • They are not ideal for door-to-door delivery services.

  • Cargo transported using a train requires additional transportation modes to reach its destination. This means you will need to have an intermodal contract.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Maritime Transportation

Maritime transportation is a slow but cost-effective way to move freight, and it offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Maritime transport is the most economical option for shipping large volumes of freight.

  • Maritime transport is less likely to be affected by weather conditions than other modes of transport.

  • It is the best transportation mode for oversized and bulk cargo. There are large container ships for these purposes,

  • It offers the highest transport capacity.

  • There is little handling required in a ship.

Drawbacks of maritime shipping include:

  • Maritime transport is relatively slow, which can make it unsuitable for time-sensitive shipments.

  • Cargo ships are subject to travel restrictions.

  • The routes for maritime transport are limited, which can make it difficult to coordinate frequent shipments.

  • Ships are not always financially economical.

  • Marine transport can be inaccessible in some regions.

  • It is not ideal for fast or urgent transportation.

  • It requires another transportation mode to reach its destination; thus, you will need to run an intermodal terminal.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Air Transportation

Transport by air is the fastest way to move freight internationally, and it offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Air transport is the fastest option for freight transportation.

  • Air cargo is less likely to be affected by weather conditions than other transportation modes.

  • Air shipping is ideal for time-sensitive shipments.

  • Air transport is the most secure and least likely to be affected by criminals.

  • It operates on a time-sensitive and fixed schedule, thus limiting the chances of delay.

Air transport mode drawbacks:

How To Choose the Best Type of Logistics Transportation for Your Company?

There are a few factors you should take into account when deciding what type of transportation is best for your company, including:

  • The type of goods you need to ship

  • Your shipping budget

  • The time frame for delivery

  • The distance of the shipment

  • Whether or not you need door-to-door service

  • The frequency of shipments

  • Environmental concerns

Get the Best Transport Mode for Your Cargo

Weighing all these factors will help you decide which mode or combination of modes of transportation best suits your company’s needs.

In our next update, we’ll investigate how and when to use which transportation mode.

Ready to get started with intermodal transport? At RailGateway, we make finding the correct mode and intermodal carrier for your freight simple, and our competitive pricing guarantees you the best rate for your shipment. Contact us and get started today with a free quote.

Get Preferred CP Intermodal Rates & Savings with Canada’s Leading Intermodal Service Provider

Partnering with for Optimal Savings

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CP Intermodal Solutions is Canada’s leading intermodal service provider and the preferred partner of CP Rail Intermodal. We offer full intermodal solutions for customers to optimize their shipping costs and increase efficiency. With our CP Rail Intermodal solutions, you can get access to preferred rates and discounts on your shipping needs.

Experienced & Trustworthy Service

We pride ourselves on our experienced and trustworthy service. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the best service and support so that you can get the most out of your intermodal shipping. With our experienced and knowledgeable staff, you can trust that you’ll get the most out of your shipping needs when you partner with us.

Get the Preferred Rates & Savings You Need with CP Rail

When you choose to partner with, you’ll get access to the preferred rates and savings you need when it comes to CP Rail Intermodal. We are committed to providing optimal savings and helping our customers increase their efficiency. Get the most out of your shipping needs when you partner with the leading intermodal service provider –

The Advantages of Working with

1. Guaranteed lower rates and discounts on rail intermodal shipping when partnering with

Streamline logistics operations and reduce costs by taking advantage of CP Rail Intermodal’s preferred rates through

2. Access to the most comprehensive network of rail services for the best transit times

Enjoy expedited transit times with access to Canada’s leading provider of intermodal services, RailGateway

3. 24/7 customer service and support from knowledgeable experts in the railroad industry

Benefit from a team of experts who have decades of experience in the railroad industry that are available to provide assistance 24/7.

4. Connectivity with CP Rail, providing access to a wide range of routes and services across Canada. 

Significant savings on shipping costs through preferred rates and discounts with CP Rail Intermodal.

5. Comprehensive rail rate information, enabling customers to make informed decisions about their shipping needs.

Increased efficiency in the supply chain process with fast turnaround times and reliable service standards throughout each shipment journey. 

3. Unparalleled customer service from experienced intermodal experts, ensuring seamless transition and satisfaction for your shipment needs.  

Maximized flexibility in meeting specific freight requirements such as temperature control, security protocols, and cross-border shipping management services.

As Canada’s leading Intermodal service provider, is the preferred partner for CP rail intermodal. Our customers enjoy preferred rates and discounts with CP rail intermodal, as well as access to our extensive network of rail transportation is the only service provider you need to keep your business moving.

Get the most out of your shipping budget – partner with and get preferred rates and discounts when you use CP rail intermodal.

CN Intermodal Preferred Partner

Get the Best Intermodal Transportation Rail Freight Rates in Canada with RailGateway

40+ Years of Experience Providing Quality Intermodal Services

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RailGateway is the preferred partner of CN Intermodal and Canada’s number one leading intermodal service provider. With over 40 years of experience, RailGateway has the lowest intermodal transportation rail freight rates in Canada for full-load containers. Our clients have come to trust our services, knowing that they are getting the best quality and most reliable intermodal solutions.

Save time and money

When you choose RailGateway for your intermodal transportation needs, you can save time and money. With our competitive rail freight rates, you can cut costs without sacrificing quality. Our experienced team of professionals will help you get the lowest rates available, allowing you to get the most out of your transportation budget.

Contact us today

If you’re looking for the best intermodal transportation rail freight rates in Canada, contact RailGateway today to see how much you can save. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be glad to answer any questions you may have and help you get the best rail freight rates available. Get started today and save on your intermodal rail freight transportation costs.

Why work with us

  • RailGateway offers the most competitive intermodal transportation rail freight rates in Canada for full-load containers. Our expertise, gained over 40 years of experience in the industry, allows us to provide lower prices than competitors and ensure our customers get the best value for their money.
  • We are CN Intermodal’s preferred partner, meaning you can trust that our services are backed by one of the top-tier rail companies and will be carried out with professionalism and care.
  • RailGateway’s team is made up of a dedicated group of professionals who understand your needs and work hard to meet them every step of the way. We make sure your cargo is handled safely throughout its journey and always strive to provide exceptional customer service.

With RailGateway you don’t have to worry about expensive costs when shipping your cargo via rail- our low intermodal transportation rates mean you can save money while getting your goods delivered on time, every time.

By partnering with CN Intermodal, you know that your shipment will be handled by experienced professionals who ensure that your items are secure throughout the entire shipping process- giving you peace of mind knowing that your goods will arrive safely at their destination without any unexpected delays or problems along the way!

Our team is committed to providing outstanding customer service- we make sure all of your needs and questions are answered promptly so that you never have to worry about any issues related to your shipment or delivery dates!

I’ve been using RailGateway for my shipping needs for years and I’ve always been impressed with their service. They are always professional and courteous, and they always get my shipments to their destination on time. I would highly recommend RailGateway to anyone who needs a reliable and affordable shipping solution.

– Mark G. Freight Logistics Manager

Save big on intermodal transport rates with Request your rail freight quote today to receive our preferred CN Rail Shipping Rates.

The Intermodal Container: Everything You Need to Know About Containerisation!

This post was last updated on October 2nd, 2023

The intermodal container has been a fixture in the shipping industry for decades. Being one of the pillars of the success of intermodal shipping seen as the best way to transport goods over long distances, intermodal cargo containers are now being used more than ever!

Even though there are many different types of intermodal containers, they all serve one purpose: to make transporting goods easier and more cost-effective.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what an intermodal container is, how it works, its average life span, the different types of intermodal containers, and much more!

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The Container Industry

The industry has been rapidly expanding over the past few years.

What was once a laborious and slow shipping process, intermodal transport is now streamlined and efficient, spreading across industries including automotive, food and beverage, retail goods, manufacturers, and much more.

The invention of the intermodal cargo container

The first successful intermodal shipping container is said to have been designed in 1956 by an American trucking entrepreneur named Malcom McLean.

One morning in the late 1930s, after driving his truck from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Hoboken, New Jersey, McLean was informed that he would have to wait until the terminal crew would unstack the pallets from his truck.

Why? Because they first had to unload all of the trucks that arrived before him.

Malcom soon recognized that he was watching both time and money wasting away, and the idea of containerization was born. But, it would still take McLean nearly 20 years to start seeing the first intermodal containers in action.

The evolution of containerization

Since its modernization, intermodal transport has been a leading industry in the country and across borders.

The use of intermodal containers has revolutionized global trade and transportation by allowing cargo to be transferred seamlessly between different modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, and ships, without repackaging the goods.

In 2012, 20.5 million intermodal containers were in existence. Today, there are said to be 600 million shipping containers in use at any given time.

So, what is an Intermodal Container?

The container (or cargo container) is an intermodal freight transport system used primarily in international trade.

They can come in different shapes and sizes and are often outfitted with refrigerated units, heating, and ventilation.

So what is an intermodal cargo container? And what good are they to you? These are two questions that might be on your mind.

Intermodal containers, or shipping containers, are used in many ways and can hold anything from goods to liquids to heavy machinery. They can move around the world quickly and, in general, with ease. 

What is intermodal containerization?

Containerization, in short, is the process of transporting goods in ISO standard containers.

The rise of International shipping containers with the ISO standardization

The ISO standardization for intermodal cargo containers considerably improved the importation and exportation process through seamless international shipping of goods.

Indeed, intermodal ISO containers respect specific international standardized sizes fixed by the International Organization for Standardization. This system helped the carriers optimize their fleets and transport containers for several logistics industry sectors.

Container characteristics and regulations

The most common type, dry freight containers, is commonly referred to as intermodal or shipping containers. They are usually 8 feet wide by 8.6 feet in height.

However, in recent years, high cube containers measuring 9.6 feet high have become more popular.

Containers come with a door at either end to be quickly loaded and offer weather protection and security against theft.

The average life span of an intermodal container is 25 years.

8 Different Types of Intermodal Containers

Dry freight container

At 90%, dry freight or general-purpose intermodal containers are the most common type in modern-day intermodal shipping.

Refrigerated containers

Intermodal cargo containers with refrigeration systems make up 6% of the world’s cargo shipments.

Open-top container

Compared to a solid roof, open-top containers have an open-top covered by a tarpaulin. This allows big and bulky items to be shipped and loaded from the top by a crane.

Flat rack container

A flat rack container is used to transport or store goods that have a specific size. The container, as the name implies, is flat, and cargo is loaded from the top or side.

Tank container

Intermodal tank containers are used to safely store and transport liquids and gases, including corrosive or flammable liquids, such as acids and gasoline.

Heated Intermodal Shipping Container

Heated containers are temperature-controlled intermodal containers designed to carry temperature-sensitive goods, offering better protection in severe weather/climates situations.

Insulated containers

Intermodal containers are insulated to protect the cargo from external elements and maintain the initial temperature.

Ventilated Containers

Ventilated intermodal containers are designed with a special ventilation system that prevents the buildup of condensation/moisture inside.

Shipping Container Specifications

What is the standard size of a shipping container?

The standard intermodal container is a 20-foot long shipping container

Note that a standardized unit was born out of that standard: The Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit or TEU. It’s used as an inexact size reference for any container ship or intermodal container. One could say, “It is a 1 TEU or a 2 TEU”.

The twenty-foot containers have an internal floor area of 146 sq. ft. and 1,172 cubic ft. of volume and are either 8.6 feet to 9.6 in height.

The weight capacity for this size of intermodal container is approximately 55,126.9 lbs or 25,000 kg.

What is the biggest shipping container size?

The largest container you can find on the market is the 53-foot High Cube Container.

Those fifty-three-foot containers are made for general purposes and specifically for international trade.

Indeed, these larger-sized shipping containers have 60% more capacity than standard 40-foot containers. Especially among rail and intermodal marine container transportation, this gain represents a significant advantage when shipping merchandise abroad.

The pallet wide containers’ sizing

You might have also heard of “pallet-wide” containers.

These are primarily European freight containers that are slightly wider than the ISO containers, built for optimal use of the internal capacity.

Indeed, the standard size of Euro-pallets is different from the ones in North America. Depending on the dimensions of the container (20-foot, 40-foot, or 45-foot), these might carry up to 7 extra Euro-pallets, representing a significant benefit for the haulers.

RailGateway’s own intermodal containers’ specifications

At RailGateway, we specialize in 53′ and 40′ high cube dry van containers with maximum weight loads of up to 59,000 lbs.

For more details, visit our container details & specifications page.

3 Types of Cargo Shipped in Intermodal Containers

Intermodal shipping containers transport a variety of cargo, including those main ones:

1. Consumer goods

Intermodal containerization is an excellent solution for companies looking to consolidate their inventory and ship it overseas or across the country quickly and easily.

2. Heavy machinery

Intermodal shipping containers are a safe and effective way to transport construction equipment, helping companies save money in the process.

3. Dry bulk cargo

Intermodal containerization is one of the safest, most cost-effective ways for dry bulk shippers to move their products around. This includes materials such as ore, coal, grain, etc.

Do you want to know what other types of cargo a container shipping enterprise could transport? Have a look at our dedicated blog post!

The basics of intermodal transportation pricing

The price of intermodal transport is generally characterized by the linehaul charges and fuel costs. Intermodal carriers determine pricing by breaking them down into these two main components.

Fuel Surcharge – This is the cost of fuel incorporated into intermodal transportation pricing and is subject to change due to fluctuations in oil prices.

Drayage – This is the cost of moving intermodal containers from short distances and includes accessorial services and costs such as receiving, unloading, loading, and other transport terminal charges.

How do I manage intermodal container costs and shipping?

Intermodal transportation rates are generally negotiated on a per-move/ per project, on the spot or one-off, or pre-determined contracted rates. Contact us for more information about intermodal pricing or to get a quote.

If you’re looking to transport goods more efficiently and cost-effectively, intermodal shipping containers are a great solution.

These large-scale steel freight containers offer businesses the opportunity to consolidate their inventory and ship it overseas or across the country quickly and easily. They also provide protection for heavy machinery items such as construction equipment that would be difficult to move by other means of transportation.

For dry bulk shippers who need an efficient way to transport materials like sugar, grain, coal, etc., intermodal containers are one of the safest, most affordable ways available today.

Contact us to help manage intermodal costs with pricing negotiation strategies tailored specifically for your business needs.

We’ll work closely with you every step of the way, and our team will be more than happy to create a great intermodal shipping plan that drives sales by considering your needs!

Transloading Vs. Intermodal Shipping: What is the Difference?

This post was last updated on October 2nd, 2023

Shipping has changed quite a bit in the last few years. It’s no longer just about moving products from one place to another; transport has evolved into an entirely new realm of complexity.

In this post, we will discuss the handling of the merchandise when it comes to a shipment requiring the use of different modes of transportation.

We will then explore the differences between transloading and intermodal shipping, helping you make an informed decision on how to transport your goods!

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What is transloading?

Transloading is the action of transferring goods from one mode of transportation to another by unloading the cargo and reloading it into a different container, rail car, or truck.

Major rail carriers such as CP and CN in Canada offer many dedicated locations allowing these operations.

What about transloading facilities?

A transload facility specifically handles the transloading process to load and unload cargo out and onto containers, trucks, or rail cars. They are often located near docks, rail yards, or airports.

For a look at CP’s transloading facilities and locations, visit their site here.

CN Rail also has over 31 strategically located distribution centersClick here to see their interactive map for more details.

What is transloading equipment?

There are particular transloading types of equipment used at transloading facilities that allow the handle of the process quickly, efficiently, and with low human labor involved.

The merchandise is usually palletized and then handled thanks to machines including forklifts, cranes, rail car dumpers, or conveyors, for example.

What type of merchandise can be transloaded?

Transloading can be used for different types of cargo. From bulk goods to nonperishable food or from construction, raw materials to non-regular sized items, many companies can use this method.

Whatever the industry your company is in, the best way to know if you can ship your items is to ask your freight forwarder.

What does the transloading fee cover?

Be aware that a transload fee might be applied to your final shipping invoice if you have to deliver your merchandise to multiple locations.

What does that stand for? This fee will cover the cost of de-consolidating the shipment at a warehouse and reloading them into different trucks sent to various destinations.

What is a typical transloading process?

A typical example of that logistics would be:

Step 1 – Start of the journey

A loaded freight ship, truck, or train arrives at a transloading facility with a specific container full of goods.

Step 2 – Transload of the Merchandise

Thanks to the transloading equipment and the support of handling, the cargo of this container is then unloaded into a storage warehouse and then reloaded into a different transportation mode (which can be a container on a rail car, ship, or truck) or directly transferred.

This would usually be the long-haul step of the shipment. Note that if you are shipping domestically, rail service would be the most economical, reliable, and sustainable option.

If the cargo can be transferred directly to the final destination truck or container, the delivery will be much faster and avoid supply chain delays.

Remember, if the shippers can keep the supply chains moving, the better, cheaper, and safer it is for you as a customer.

Step 3 – The optimal path to reach the final destination

If needed, your goods might have to go through another transloading facility.

The most common path is that the operators have to be moving goods onto trucks for final delivery in order to reach specific and more isolated locations.

Step 4 – The final delivery

The transloading process is complete once the goods reach their destination for the final delivery: customers or distribution center, ready for the market!

Is transloading the same as cross-docking?

Although transloading and cross-docking are similar, transloading services tend to be longer, more customized, and often imply a longer process with more steps.

Whereas a transload facility offers a larger range of services, cross-dock services mainly handle shipments to be directly moved to another truck for final delivery or very short storage.

Merchandise turnover is way quicker and often remains under 24H. Truck drivers have to be ready for their truck to be loaded and to start their journey right away. Great and fast communication is necessary.

Intermodal or Transloading services for your freight shipment?

Now that we’ve defined transloading let’s talk about intermodal shipping and its differences.

What is intermodal shipping?

Intermodal transport refers to the shipment of goods using more than one mode of transportation during the shipping process.

This could mean transporting a product by truck to a train station and then loading it onto a rail car for transport until its final destination.

But one of the main features of this shipping solution is that the load will remain in the same container all the way.

What is the difference between intermodal freight shipping and transloading?

The difference between them lies in how product movement happens at transload facilities:

In transloading, the product is unloaded from one transportation mode and reloaded into another one using a different container.

With intermodal shipping, the cargo will remain in the same intermodal container for the entire trip until it reaches its final destination. It’s the containers themselves that will be moved from one mode of transportation to another.

When to use intermodal or transloading?

Now that you know the difference, it is easier to see when each service would be best for your company’s needs.

If you have a shipment that includes different destinations, transloading might be a better option so that the cargo can be handled more efficiently and overall have more flexibility.

However, a significant disadvantage of transloading is that the container must be opened and the cargo handled and moved. This means the risks of damages, thefts, and delays are also higher.

Intermodal freight shipping can handle almost any type of cargo and is a great solution when you can ship a full container for yourself from one point to another while also being environmentally friendly with fewer emissions into our atmosphere.

Since the cargo will be in the same container, it is also easier to track and manage. Intermodal is the better option if you’re looking for a fast, cheap, and easy shipment solution and your cargo fits into a single container.

At the end of the day, each case is different, and the best way to handle your shipments will also depend on your type of products, weight, sizes, routes, ports, and much more.

To define the best solution for you, we invite you to contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with a quote for your intermodal shipment across Canada and cross border into the US!

Get Ready for Rail Shipping in Canada: 5 Steps

This post was last updated on October 2nd, 2023

Canadian businesses are about to be hit with a new and exciting change: rail carrier shipping.

An increasingly popular it’s a more efficient and cost-effective way to ship goods than traditional methods. 

As the demand grows, you should make some important considerations before jumping into the growing market of rail service. In this blog post, we’ll outline five steps that will get you ready for rail shipping in Canada!

Table of contents

  1. Five Steps in Getting Ready for Rail Service


  1. Can you ship by train in Canada?
  2. How much does it cost to ship by rail?
  3. How do I track my rail shipment?
  4. Is shipping by rail cheaper than truck?
  5. What kind of shipments can I book using your services?
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Intermodal Transportation in Canada

With an increased focus on domestic intermodal traffic, the Canadian railway industry has undergone massive changes in recent years.

And now that the industry is ready to recover its losses and welcome new players into the game, it’s essential to explore the steps required before executing this type of supply chain shipping for your company. 

Rail Shipping Canada Considerations

– How will your business capitalize on the growing demand? 

– What are you looking to ship via rail freight transportation, and what is feasible given your current supply and demand chains?  

– Where are you currently experiencing service issues, backlogs, delays?

– Are you experiencing an increase in rail shipping rates?

Canada offers several benefits for businesses looking to ship via rail service. Access and ease of service, environmentally friendly transportation, and potential cost savings of transportation services upfront.

railroad engineer looking over train before shipping

5 Essential Steps in Getting Ready for Freight Rail Service

Getting ready for rail shipping is as easy as following 5 simple steps.

1. Consider your product type

What type of goods do you want to transport via shipping containers? Are they fragile or heavy-duty? Are they packed or unpacked?

Know that trains are great transportation solutions for almost any type of cargo, from grain to vehicles and from common consumer goods to construction equipment.

But, it’s good to know that some products and hazardous materials are strictly regulated when using rail shipping. Stay informed about those regulations by consulting or registering for their dedicated Newsletter.

2. Check your network

Are you currently experiencing issues with the railroads or another intermodal service provider that may be solved by switching carriers?

The global marketplace is changing, and long haul North American services with it. Canadian railways are ready to provide better service, but it’s important to make sure that your partners can leap with you.

If a particular railroad provides poor performance or increased costs, consult for a list of available carriers and service routes.

Get your FREE quote to learn more about what opportunities await you in long-distance freight rail.

3. Know your rail shipping rates

Some products have a generalized transport cost of an intermodal transport solution. Check with to find out how much it will cost you to ship the cargo you want before making any commitments.

Rail rates are subject to change at different times of the year due to weather conditions and other factors that affect performance on Canada’s railways.

Plan ahead! It never hurts to get more than one quote for future planning purposes.   

4. Get your equipment

The process of rail shipping in Canada is straightforward, but there are certain requirements to follow.  

First and foremost, you need a suitable container for the trip. Shipping containers must be clean (not contaminated) with no hazardous contents or materials inside.

For more information about what containers are available with RailGateway, visit our dedicated page on our container details & specifications.

5. Get your documentation in order

For rail shipping, you’ll need to be able to provide a commercial invoice detailing the contents and value of items shipped.  

Be sure also to check that all necessary documents are readily available before we arrive at your location: permits, licenses, and insurance certificates that may be required by law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you ship by train in Canada?

Absolutely, we can!

Canada benefits from a vast rail network that allows deliveries on long distances, from a point on one coast to another without much trouble.

Canadian railroads are equipped to handle a variety of freight traffic, including being renowned as the safest method to move dangerous goods and hazardous materials (even though this type of shipment is strictly regulated).

At RailGateway, we partner with two major and reliable Canadian Rail Companies, CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) and CN (Canadian National Railway Company).

How much does it cost to ship by rail?

Rail rates are subject to change based on weather conditions and other factors influencing railway efficiency throughout the year.

Did you know, though, that you can transport two to three truckloads in a single railcar? This equals cost savings in any light.

How do I track my rail shipment?

With RailGateway, you’ll get a comprehensive status update every day that will show you all of the information about your intermodal transportation shipment from pick up and delivery locations to appointments, container numbers, and drops to where your container is in transit. All of your railway freight shipping needs are in one place!

Is shipping by rail cheaper than truck?

It’s difficult to compare costs against one another because it depends on the type of equipment you are using and what kind of cargo you are transporting.

That said, train transport is generally more cost-effective than truck transport if you plan a shipment on long distances.

What kind of shipments can I book using your services? offers full load 53′ and 40′ intermodal transportation services across Canada coast to coast and cross-border shipping via the Mississippi corridor.

We can pick up from any dock/port going to any dock for all railroad freight.

Freight shipping by rail is one of the biggest trends in freight transportation.

Rail transport has many advantages, including lower cost per kilometre than trucking and less congestion on highways. It also offers better fuel efficiency than trucks.

Rail shipments are also more secure than other forms of transportation because they require minimal loading or unloading at the destination terminal.

And most rail carriers offer door-to-door service with convenient pickup options.

Railways have been used as a means of transportation since the mid-1800s, and today they are still widely relied upon.

Rail shipments can be faster than by truck or air, but getting your company ready for rail shipping will take some time.

Get started on Intermodal Rail Shipping with our Rail Carrier!

Once you’ve addressed all these considerations, it’s time to move forward into getting quotes from carriers that specialize in rail freight service across Canada!

With, it’s never been easier to ship freight with rail. Contact our experts and check out our best rail freight rates, route, and transit time to move your shipment across the country!

And know that whether you’re shipping from Toronto to VancouverMontreal to Calgary, or Edmonton back to Toronto, we at RailGateway can deliver.

Request your FREE rail quote with the experts at RailGateway today! 

The Top 18 Intermodal Terminals in Canada

This post was last updated on October 2nd, 2023

Canada is a country with diverse natural resources, and it’s also home to some of the largest Intermodal Terminals. The Intermodal Terminal Network in Canada has grown over the last several decades and as global trade continues to grow, more Domestic Intermodal Terminals flourish across this great nation.

Which Intermodal Terminals rank among the top ten in Canada? Read on to find out.

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A Look at the Top 18 Intermodal Transport Terminals in Canada

Canadian National Railway Company (CN rail yard locations)

*From East to West but in no particular order

  • Halifax, NS
    Port Code: 009
    Sub. Code: 2021
  • Moncton, NB
    Port Code: 206
    Sub. Code: 2108
  • Montreal, QC
    Port Code: 395
    Sub. Code: 2414  
  • Malport, ON
    Port Code: 495
    Sub. Code: 3006
  • Brampton (Toronto), ON
    Port Code: 495
    Sub. Code: 3037
  • Winnipeg, MB
    Port Code: 504
    Sub. Code: 3147
  • Saskatoon, SK
    Port Code: 605
    Sub. Code: 3215
  • East Regina, SK
    Port Code: 0604
    Sub. Code: 5817
  • Edmonton, AB
    Port Code: 702
    Sub. Code: 4492
  • Calgary Logistics Park, AB
    Port Code: 701
    Sub. Code: 5426
  • Vancouver, BC
    Port Code: 809
    Sub. Code: 3373

For a complete look at CN’s interactive map of intermodal terminals and yards, visit

Experience the benefits of partnering with RailGateway, a preferred partner of CN Rail. As a privileged partner, we have access to exclusive discounts and rates that aren’t typically unavailable. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Request a free, no-obligation rail freight quote from us today and discover how much you can save on your intermodal logistics costs. Click here to get started!

CP Rail ramp facilities and intermodal terminals

*From East to West but in no particular order

  • Lachine Intermodal Terminal (Quebec)
  • Vaughan Intermodal Terminal (Kleinburg, ON)
  • Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal (Manitoba)
  • Regina Intermodal Facility (Saskatchewan)
  • Edmonton Intermodal Terminal (Alberta)
  • Calgary Intermodal Terminal (Alberta)
  • Vancouver Intermodal Terminal (Pitt Meadows, BC)

Download CP Rails North American Rail map here.

New Proposed Developments, Projects, and Intermodal Ramp Sites Canada [ Updated 2023 ]

  • The Federal Government proposes and approves a new rail park in Winnipeg to facilitate the intermodal transfer of cargo, easing traffic to and from the US and Mexico. Full details here.
  • High-Frequency Rail project. More details here.

11 Contributing Factors of a Top Rated Intermodal Terminal

Intermodal terminals are designed for a specific use, and a number of factors can affect their performance.

Intermodal terminals should be able to handle large trucks efficiently and have basic functions and terminal infrastructure processes in place.

These terminals offer many different advantages, including:

– Proximity to major trade corridors, ports, and population centers  

– The ability to handle a wide range of cargo types 

– A lower environmental footprint

When analyzing intermodal terminals for your transportation needs, consider the following:

  1. Do you require the use of rail-mounted gantry cranes? Is this an important factor in the execution of your intermodal transportation process?
  2. Is there a local terminal manager? What kind of local support is there?
  3. Are double-sided rail access mounts and ladders available? Will your shipments require the use of one?
  4. What international and domestic relations does the terminal have? Is expansion into European countries and other markets important.
  5. Is there sufficient parking space?
  6. When handling equipment, what intermodal operators are involved?
  7. Is there a dedicated operational company?
  8. Will you require and/or is it rail-side access?
  9. What is local demand like?
  10. What market segments does the terminal or yard specialise in, if any?
  11. Is there interim storage facilities available in cases of delays or emergencies?

Defining what Intermodal Transportation is.

Intermodal transport is the transfer of goods from one transport mode of transportation to another, such as when cargo is transferred from a ship to a train.

Time and cost of transportation, availability of services, and legal and insurance issues are just a few of the factors that must be considered when selecting a shipping method.

There are many actors involved in the transportation of products, such as shippers and logistics providers, as well as government agencies.

Intermodal shipping containers allow for the more efficient and less costly movement of goods because they can be transported on land, water, or air.

Intermodals are typically used for manufactured products that ship in large volumes and have standardized sizes for packaging or units.

Intermodals provide an alternative to traditional break-bulk cargo handling methods by simplifying the loading and unloading process at ports, and at rail and road network points as well.

By reducing labor costs and time required at each intermodal terminal stop, intermodal services can also save energy and emissions by requiring fewer trucks on the road.

Intermodal Transport Services

Canada has over 41,700 route kilometres of rail network tracks, 559 marine port facilities, 1.13 million two-lane equivalent public roads, and 81 airports – a Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) report.

The report, with project funding partners such as Alberta Transportation, Metrolinx, Ministère des Transports du Québec and the Region of Peel is a look at the history, purpose, and operation of goods movement in Canada.

Canada’s trade is built off the backbone between three main corridors:

1. The Western Asia-Pacific Corridor. Established in 2006 with the launch of the Asia–Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative (APGCI)

2. The Ontario-Quebec Corridor. The principal economic corridor of Canada supports $560 billion of trade.

3. And the Atlantic Corridor. A transportation network of intermodal and rail terminals that connect North America to European countries and markets in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia via the Suez Canal

intermodal terminal

Canada is a vast country with people and goods moving in and out of the country every day. Intermodal terminals are responsible for this movement, giving Canadian businesses access to markets all over the world. With so many different modes of transportation available, it can be difficult to keep track of who is running what terminal or where they’re located.

At RailGateway we want to simplify the intermodal supply chain process and industry by offering our clients unparalleled customer service while saving them time and money.

Whether you’re shipping from Moncton to Vancouver, Toronto to Winnipeg to Calgary, and back again – we have the experience you need to ship your cargo from the east coast to the west. Contact us for your FREE no-obligation rail freight quote.

Meet the Intermodal Carriers: Understanding Who They Are and How to Work With Them

This post was last updated on October 2nd, 2023

Intermodal carriers are an important part of the transportation industry. They’re a vital service and organizations looking for efficient freight transportation across North America should not overlook the intermodal shipping industry.

It’s not about picking a single mode of transportation or expediting the delivery of your items. It’s about choosing the best of each transportation mode and determining an efficient and secure way to transport your products across the country.

And, for your business to flourish, you must pick a suitable intermodal carrier that can assist you properly.

This post aims to help you understand what an intermodal carrier is, who they serve, and how they function. We’ll also go through how you can collaborate with them to efficiently handle intermodal shipments across Canada and cross borders to the US.

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Understanding the Intermodal Transportation Service

What is intermodal shipping?

Intermodal transportation involves the transfer of your cargo from Point A to Point B, using two or more modes of transportation, such as truck and rail.

What is meant by an intermodal shipment?

An intermodal shipment is cargo movement by several transportation modes via intermodal containers.

Intermodal shipments tend to travel over long distances as they typically move between regions or countries, so shippers need to pick an intermodal carrier that best suits their needs.

Who are the main actors of intermodal shipping?

First, you have the shipper or client looking for a cost-effective and efficient way to move their freight.

Then, you have the intermodal service provider, transporter, or carrier. This company provides the transportation mode between two points, trucking, railcar loading, or container shipping.

And finally, you have the freight forwarder. This company is an intermodal carrier’s partner, and they handle the waybill, booking, and all other intermodal paperwork. These intermodal service providers help link all of the carriers involved in the intermodal shipping of the merchandise.

What is the usual intermodal transportation process?

The intermodal transportation process usually starts with the shipper, who has a product they need to get from one destination (wholesaler or distribution centre) to another destination, typically the end consumer. Depending on budget and needs, the shipper will work with a freight forwarder to choose the best mode of transport.

Once the goods are picked up, a drayage service will take the intermodal container(s) to a terminal, where they will be transferred onto another mode of transportation, typically rail.

The intermodal carrier will then deliver the cargo to its final destination, where the containers are again transferred onto another transport mode or taken directly to the final consignee.

Working with an intermodal carrier is not as difficult as it may seem.

The key is to find a reliable intermodal freight forwarder with competitive rail prices that can act as a single point of contact to help you with your logistical supply chain. 

two grey CN rail shipping containers

Intermodal freight transportation in Canada

If you’re shipping domestic intermodal across Canada, you might want to have a look at our full-load rail service company, using the CP and CN railway system as a low-carbon footprint and cost-effective solution to deliver your goods easily. 

From Montreal to Edmonton, Toronto to Vancouver, and everything else in between the east coast to the west, we, at RailGateway, can get your goods where they need to go and at the best rates possible.

We’re Canada’s number one choice for full-load intermodal rail transport shipping, and we’re here to help make the process as easy as possible.

Get a free intermodal quote for our services, and we’ll let you know if we’re a good fit for you.

What is an intermodal carrier?

What is a “carrier”?

A carrier is a business that transports passengers and cargo by land, air, or sea.

As the name suggests, Intermodal freight carriers facilitate things further by moving goods through intermodal containers, from one particular place to another, via several transportation modes.

This means they are experts at getting cargo from a ship onto a truck, then onto a railcar, and vice versa. But that’s not all! They can also collect your goods from an air cargo terminal if you need any last-minute intermodal shipment.

What are the responsibilities and services of an intermodal carrier?

Aside from transporting, intermodal carriers can also provide various services, including storage and transfers across modes of transportation to complete their mission.

At intermodal yards and other facilities, a carrier can arrange the use of cranes for stacking containers or the use of forklifts to move them around.

Finally, they may have warehouses strategically positioned near ocean ports and Canadian and American railroads, ensuring that whatever you need will be close by.

The best part about intermodal carriers?

They’re experts at optimizing routes for cost savings and efficiency, meaning they’ll always find the cheapest way to get your shipment where it needs to go.

Intermodal operators can often offer more flexible and environmentally friendly solutions than transporting your goods by truck alone.

How do they work with shippers and other intermodal providers?

An intermodal carrier may not work directly with the shipper in some cases. But are usually in direct contact with freight forwarders to find the best intermodal transportation solution for their customers.

These individuals will collaborate with them to book their services and manage and oversee the whole shipment process.

This way, shippers can focus on their business while freight forwarders take care of all the logistics.

Sounds great so far? So how do you get started?

Should you work with intermodal shipping carriers?

Who uses intermodal transportation providers?

Many businesses do!

From manufacturing firms to construction companies to e-commerce and retail businesses, if you’re looking for an efficient way to ship your products, then you should consider intermodal transportation.

How to work with intermodal carriers?

The best way to find an intermodal carrier is to reach out to a freight forwarder that can work with intermodal providers and railway operators on your behalf.

This way, you’ll get the help you need from experts who know how intermodal transportation works! Also, you might benefit from pooled volume discounts so that your shipment can be cheaper.

How can you benefit from working with intermodal carriers?

Working with intermodal carriers avoids high transit times, high transportation costs, wrong coordination, and other common problems when shipping through a single transportation mode.

Your intermodal carriers may help you save money by streamlining the transportation of your goods.

Other advantages to working with logistics companies for intermodal transport?


Intermodal services are also a sustainable choice for businesses as you will be able to pick the most adapted transportation mode depending on your route.

For instance, you can reduce carbon emissions and congestion on the roads by choosing rail for the long haul rather than intermodal trucking services.

Rail service is also more secure and safer in extreme weather, transporting environmental hazards, and time-efficient when compared to shipping goods by truck.

However, intermodal trucking companies offer more flexibility to get your shipment to a specific area or directly to your warehouse. Trucks are then also necessary for the last mile delivery.

You would understand, moving freight by taking advantage of the best of each part of the transportation industry is the way to go!

Working with an intermodal carrier is a win-win situation. And that’s why we’re here to help with your intermodal rail shipping needs.

Daily, we work with medium to large-sized shippers and high-volume shippers to help them save time, money, and headaches on every step of their supply chain.

So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to know more about intermodal carriers and the services we offer. Our experts would be happy to answer you!