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:

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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 place 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.

Complicated

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 News: Making Headlines This Year (2022)

This post was last updated on August 14th, 2022

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. For a free no-obligation rail quote on how we can help you save, contact us now.

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

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.
By TheCityFix.com

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 improve 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, 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 Trains.com 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 a FREE no-obligation rail quote on how we can help you save.

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, intermodal 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 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.

Canada’s Domestic Intermodal Shipping Industry. How Does Your Business Fit-in?

Canada’s domestic intermodal industry is one of its most vibrant industries. It was built on a foundation of good ideas and innovation, which continues with constant change and growth.

The domestic intermodal transportation industry has been steadily growing over the years and employs close to 1M people in Canada’s intermodal logistics sector alone.

And it’s not just limited to freight transport by truck and rail. Domestic services are available for ocean shipping and air cargo as well.

The domestic industry is a critical part of Canada’s economic growth. Here we’ll take a look at what domestic intermodal transportation is and how it can benefit your business.

The History of Domestic Intermodal Service in Canada

Domestic intermodal freight transport has been around in Canada since the early 19th century. Ten years after England established its first steam railway line, Canada’s first railway line was built in 1836.

Construction in Canada’s rail industry began to take off from there. The Grand Trunk Railway ran from Sarnia, Ontario, through Toronto and Montreal to Portland, Maine was built. And in 1854, the Great Western Railway completed a route between Niagara Falls and Detroit via Hamilton.

Oddly enough, the Intercolonial Railway, the largest network, never expected to profit. So when financial troubles hit during the first World War, the railroads’ system was merged into CN Rail (Canadian National Railways) and the debts inherited by the Canadian government-owned company. (source The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Canada’s rail intermodal volume is primarily used to move or ship dry bulk cargo such as coal and grain in standardized intermodal containers (ISO containers).

The first container train was operated by CN, carrying 200 intermodal containers from Montreal to Toronto in 1968.

Today, Canada’s domestic intermodal freight transport handles everything from cars to electronics to toys.

Intermodal Economic Growth in Canada and North America

In Canada, domestic freight is moved primarily by trucks (70%) and rail (30%). But the tables are turning towards a heavier reliance on rail transportation.

Intermodal traffic delays and backlogs, intermodal capacity constraints, driver shortages, increased transit time and delivery fees, port congestion and a global pandemic have contributed to the increased interest in rail’s market share.

The rail market is expected to accelerate at a CARG rate of 4%, and 33% of that growth will originate from North America. – Technavio.com

What is Domestic Intermodal Service?

Domestic intermodal service simply put is the domestic shipping of freight and can help companies expand and move their products quickly and more efficiently.

Companies in Canada with international trade will also find domestic intermodal services beneficial for their needs.

Domestic logistics can be used to move goods from one location in the country to another and between countries like the US and Mexico.

Canadian domestic shipments are typically handled by truck and rail transport. Trucking offers a more flexible solution for shorter distances, but both rail and trucking provide competitive rates and convenience when needed.

What Domestic Intermodal Service is Best for Me?

This depends on your needs. Also, on the volume of shipments you’re looking to ship/receive and to and from where.

If you’re looking for domestic transport by rail, finding a company that specializes in domestic shipping on your specific route is critical.

Domestic logistics operators can also provide customs brokerage and warehousing services, which can help your company save money.

Are you looking to ship from Ontario or Quebec out West? Contact one of our rail experts for a FREE no-obligation quote. We’re confident our rates will be within your budget.

According to Statistics Canada, domestic intermodal transport volumes are expected to grow over the next few years. This is good news for businesses who want to move their goods domestically, as this service will only become more efficient.

Domestic Intermodal Services Today and the Benefits They Offer You as a Shipper or Freight Forwarder

Recent changes to international trade have impacted domestic logistics, but domestic transportation still remains one of the most vibrant industries in Canada’s economy.

Domestic railway freight transportation is playing an ever-increasing role in transporting goods across the country.

Intermodal rail service offers advantages for moving goods over long distances, including reduced handling and inventory costs and improved security and on-time performance.

When you’re looking to ship your domestic freight, it’s important to find the right domestic intermodal service for your needs. It can be challenging to know where to start with so many options available.

That’s where we come in! RailGateway is Canada’s number one choice in full load intermodal rail transport with over 40+ years of experience shipping domestic freight by rail across Canada. 

We provide intermodal services for companies of all sizes in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.

We have the knowledge and expertise to offer you domestic shipping by rail with excellent on-time service that goes above and beyond.

Intermodal logistics is a great way for businesses to decrease costs without reducing their level of service. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business.


Canadian domestic transportation history is one of the most vibrant industries in Canada, with constant change and growth over the years.

With domestic logistics playing an ever-increasing role in the movement of goods across Canada, businesses need to find out if this service will benefit their needs.

We’re confident that you’ll see how much value we can add to your company’s bottom line, just like so many others have before you!

Thank you for reading this article. We hope that it has been helpful to you as a reader.

Intermodal and Multimodal Transportation: What’s the Best Option For Your Business?

This post was last updated on May 17th, 2022

When it comes to delivering your goods to the other side of Canada or even to the other side of the world, shipping through several transportation modes comes naturally as the answer to overcome natural barriers, be cheaper or even faster.

However, did you know that there are several ways to proceed?

Let’s explore the differences between multimodal and intermodal shipping to see which is best for your needs!

What is Known as Multimodal Transportation?

The premises of multimodal transport

According to research work on “Multimodal Transport Law and Operations” produced by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an early version of the multimodal concept was first introduced in the United Kingdom in the mid 19th century.

The Birmingham & Derby Railway company started to transfer rail containers to horse carriage as an alternative to the single-mode transport systems dominant at the time.

What is multimodal transportation?

Multimodal transportation, as its Latin etymology could let us think, is the use of several (“multi”) modes of transport (“modal”) to ship cargo from point A to a final destination.

A multimodal shipment is often managed by a multimodal transport operator (MTO), which are transportation companies that have access to different shipping modes of transportation.

Today, multimodal transportation is used extensively worldwide for both international and domestic freight movement because it offers significant cost savings compared with other methods of transporting goods over long distances or across borders to a different country.

What is the specificity of multimodal services?

In multimodal transportation services, there is only a single contract that covers the entire journey of the cargo from origin to destination.

This means the multimodal operator you will contract will handle the freight from A to Z as a single carrier.

What are examples of multimodal transport?

Multimodal shipping can include sea, rail, road, or air freight and ensure a port-to-door service.

What are the pros of multimodal shipping?

As the contract is handled by one carrier only, this service can sometimes lower transportation costs.

How so? Think about the fact that you can negotiate a combined transport bill for the total shipping cost and don’t have to pay the different logistics coordination rates of several carriers.

Other advantages of multimodal shipping are ensuring better control over tracking, quality, and security. They are also accountable for the entire carriage. Indeed, you are not dealing with different providers here, so everything is more straightforward to handle and monitor.

Talking logistics now, the fact the contracted carrier handles everything on the supply chain, they have a clear organization and view of the pick-up and transfer of the goods from one mode of transportation to another. This can also show a faster delivery time.

Multimodal transport coordination is just very streamlined and effective.

What about intermodal transportation?

What is intermodal transportation?

Well, if multimodal shipping offers a wide range of logistics services with several modes of transportation, know that the concept behind intermodal transportation must be closely linked to it!

Intermodal shipping is the transportation of goods using more than one mode of transport thanks to a single container, but this time, under several contracts.

What transportation mode are used in intermodal freight transport?

Here too, the intermodal transport modes are diverse and combine the benefits of all the multiple modes of transportation.

An intermodal shipment allows businesses to move their cargo through truck, rail, air, or sea freight, with the help of multiple carriers.

What are the pros of intermodal shipping?

With intermodal transportation shipping, other advantages emerge from contracting several transport carriers.

Businesses often like intermodal services because they have more control over their shipments. They can choose which mode of transport to use on each step of the journey, and ensure their cargo ships in the most effective way.

Also, relying on multiple contracts allows you not to put all your eggs in one basket and be dependent on a single carrier. Here, you keep control over each leg of the shipment: If a carrier becomes problematic, you can quickly bounce back to find another solution.

This also means that you could eventually re-negotiate terms separately all your freight costs with each provider and maybe, get cheaper shipping bills. However, dealing with several carriers could also imply duplicate charges or services.

In addition, intermodal transport shipments are more secure and help businesses simplify inventory management by having a single container for all goods instead of multiple containers with different freight carriers.

How to optimize your intermodal shipping strategy?

If you are not sure what you are looking into, don’t lose any more time nor money, and get in touch with experts.

At RailGateway, we are full load intermodal rail shipping specialists based in Canada, and we can advise you and help you get the best rates for rail shipping. Indeed, whereas handling separate transport carrier can be confusing and require more logistics coordination, we make any rail intermodal movement easy by gathering it all under a unique solution.

We have also been working with CN and CP for a long time and are now able to offer low pooled volume prices, which reduces inventory costs and total shipping costs of our clients’ logistics.

Do you wanna have a look at how much you could win working with us? Get a free rail freight quote now!

Combined Transport Shipping Strategy: What to choose Between Intermodal and Multimodal Transport?

In the end, what differs intermodal from multimodal transportation?

Intermodal transportation can actually be seen as a subset of multimodal shipping.

Multimodal shipping goes beyond the use of several modes of transportation. It offers an added value in coordination and organization as they can offer all shipping modes under a single contract whereas intermodal shipping offers its clients the possibility to combine different carriers and contracts in order to receive a supply chain services tailored to their needs.

What to choose for your shipping strategy?

Multimodal services are more comprehensive and cover all aspects from origin to destination.

In other words, multimodal transport is the best way to go if you are looking for a one-stop shop and low organization on your part when it comes to shipping your goods, but it might come at a higher price and less safety and control of your shipments.

Intermodal transportation is a more tactical approach.

You can monitor all aspects of the cargo flow and negotiate your own terms with several carriers, which can end up to be very beneficial.

However, it’s a bit more time-consuming, can require some good logistics knowledge and organisation skills if your team organize the full intermodal journey themselves.


In the end, between multimodal and intermodal transportation, that’s your choice to make! There is no right or wrong answer.

It depends on your organization’s needs and the resources you have to handle the logistics to go over several contracts or not.

Another solution we haven’t talked about is hiring an agent or shipping experts who will work on several shipping freight contracts for you.

If you’re ready to make the jump and conquer the other side of Canada with your products without worrying about anything, make sure to request a quote on our website for our full load intermodal rail shipping services. From Montreal to Vancouver, we’ve got you covered!

Transloading Vs. Intermodal Shipping: What is the Difference?

This post was last updated on March, 31st 2022

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!

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!

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

This post was last updated on July 24th, 2022

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 that anyone would need to know regarding intermodal 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 so many terms and acronyms to know. This can make it hard for anyone, no matter how experienced they are, to understand what’s going on. 

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 rather mimic the flow of an intermodal freight shipping process.

Intermodal

The word intermodal refers to a transportation method that involves 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 you with regular updates on your shipment and provide additional services such as insurance for your cargo.

Consignee

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.

logistics workers in container shipping yard

Containerization

Containerization is a means of intermodal freight transport that uses container-sized units for handling cargo. This system allows intermodal transportation to function more smoothly.

Intermodal container

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

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 certain 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

Breakbulk cargo refers to goods that are not shipped in containers. This type of cargo is usually handled and transported individually, as opposed to being 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 be 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 either 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, full load is a shipment where a single shippers’ cargo is transported in the same container.

Less than truckload intermodal shipments

A less than truckload shipment is when the quantity of goods does not fill an entire truck or container (rail).

Last-mile

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 usually the ones that ensure the last-mile delivery during an intermodal service.

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.

Drayage

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.

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

(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 great 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 are handled by several different shipping companies.

What is intermodal shipping vs. transloading?

Intermodal shipping is when containers are moved between trucks and trains to transfer goods. Transloading, on the other hand, 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 that carry goods, supplies, and materials between ports handling international shipping trade between one country and another. 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 to luxury items such as toys and electronics are frequently delivered via ocean freight. Maritime shipping accounts for 53% of U.S. imports and 38 percent 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.

Intermodal Freight Transportation: The Safest Way to Ship Your Goods

This post was last updated on March 31st, 2022

Sending high volumes of goods via intermodal freight can be tricky and scary. What if the merchandise is damaged during transport? What if it’s stolen? What if it never arrives at its destination?

These are typical concerns that business owners have when shipping their goods. But intermodal freight transportation can help ease those worries.

Today, in our blog post, we’ll explain how intermodal freight transportation is handled and explain why and how it’s a safe way to ship this cargo. Maybe even the safest?

Getting to Know Intermodal Freight Shipping

Intermodal freight transportation has been the industry standard for shipping large quantities of goods internationally, domestically, and within regions.

But what does intermodal mean?

Intermodal freight transportation is a shipping process that combines two or more modes of transport to ship goods across long distances. This could include ground, water, and rail transportation, for instance.

By using intermodal freight shipping, cargo owners can enjoy the benefits of using different modes of transport depending on the situation and the goods that need to be transported.

This flexibility is one of the main reasons intermodal shipping is so popular.

Why is it called intermodal?

Intermodal comes from the Latin words “inter” (between) and “modal” (modes), referring then to shipping goods by splitting transportation between different methods.

What are the types of intermodal transportation?

Contrary to the full truckload shipment, intermodal transportation use several transportation modes to move cargo between points in the supply chain, including:

  • Ground transportation with intermodal trucks,
  • Freight rail service with trains,
  • Water with container ships,
  • And air service with planes.

The Common Intermodal Shipping Process

1. Get in touch with intermodal providers

The shipper will want to contact a freight forwarder or an intermodal shipping services provider to understand what is being shipped, the size and weight, and where it needs to go.

2. Defining the optimal route for your intermodal shipments

Once you find the perfect partner and sign an intermodal contract for your intermodal shipping needs, they’ll help you determine the multiple modes of transportation required to complete the shipment.

They will mainly consider factors such as cost, time, type of cargo, and the goods’ final destination.

3. The common intermodal transport operations

Once the intermodal shipping process is initiated, it’s important to keep in mind that there are several handoffs along the way, but everything is happening in a seamless manner.

That’s the beauty of intermodal transportation!

This means that your cargo will be loaded onto a one and only intermodal container, which will then be transferred from truck to train, vessel or plane.

Indeed, every time a carrier gets to an intermodal ramp to make a switch to the next transportation mode of the intermodal journey, the container will be lifted off of the train, truck, or else and then be moved directly onto another intermodal transportation mode without the need to unload the cargo.

This operation can repeat as many times as necessary until it reaches the final destination.

Note: Because the intermodal transportation network uses intermodal containers to move products, it has also been dubbed containerized shipping.

The Main Intermodal Freight Advantages That You Should Know

Intermodal cuts down on wasted space at ports and terminals and reduces highway congestion.

Using the railway system for a good part of intermodal freight transport also helps reduce transportation costs for the shipper. The workforce that needs to intervene is limited; the quantity shipped can be higher, allowing shipment economy of scale.

Overall, rail intermodal traffic is usually a cheaper method to transport goods.

According to the Association of American Railroads, freight railroads would also be four times more fuel-efficient than truck-only shipments, thus inducing a lower carbon footprint.

But fuel efficiency, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly are not the only advantages of intermodal freight shipping.

Safety is another highlight of the intermodal shipping business. Let us tell you why.

Is Intermodal Transportation the Safest Way to Ship Your Cargo?

Intermodal shipping also allows your cargo to be shipped in the same container via the most direct route, which reduces the chance of delays and increases security. This is due to a variety of reasons.

Safe intermodal vehicles

For starters, intermodal transportation uses trucks designed for long-distance hauls. This means they have more safety features than regular semis, like reinforced frames and stronger suspensions.

They also have more modern braking systems, allowing the driver to stop the vehicle quickly if needed.

Slight handling of the merchandise

Intermodal shipments use containers that can be easily transferred from one mode of transport to another – by truck, train, barge, or even aircraft – without unloading their contents.

For the intermodal shippers, this represents a more secure method of transporting goods since it minimizes the amount of handling they receive and, potentially, limits the damages and breakage of the merchandise.

Fewer accidents on the roads

Intermodal freight transportation allows the shipment of products over long distances, usually employing railroads to cover the land-based segments.

And in case of environmental hazards, snow, heavy rain, or others, trains are usually more resilient than road transport.

Fewer losses of goods

Since this transportation involves using an intermodal container with locked doors, the chance of your goods being lost or stolen is significantly lower than the merchandise being transported on the highway.

An improved shipment tracking

Whereas following the route of your intermodal freight shipment was difficult in the past, these times are over.

Most of the intermodal containers are now equipped with a GPS tracking system (satellite or cellular), so you can easily monitor their location and movements at all times, making them more secure for both the logistics companies and consignees.


As you can see, other than its eco-shipping and reduced cost service, intermodal freight shipping is then also a very safe way to ship your goods.

Not only does intermodal transportation use vehicles that are designed for long-haul distances, but they also use containers that can be easily transferred from one mode of transport to another without unloading their contents, limiting loss, damages, and breakage of the goods.

Accidents due to harsh weather conditions can also be limited, thanks to trains on risky segments. Finally, the tracking of intermodal containers has improved in the past years.

Those elements make intermodal freight a reliable, safe, and cost-effective way to transport your cargo.

Are you not convinced yet? Contact us today for more information!

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

This post was last updated on March 31st, 2022

LIntermodal 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 handle intermodal shipments across Canada and North America efficiently.

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 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, 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?

Sure!

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!