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.