Getting Started with Rail Intermodal Transport: The 7 Benefits Beyond What You’ve Heard!

Canadians know intermodal transport as a way to move goods across the country. What they may not know is that intermodal transport can also be an excellent way for Canadian businesses to save on costs, reduce their carbon footprint, and increase productivity.

In this blog post, we will discuss 7 reasons why intermodal transportation should be on your radar for any company looking to improve its logistics distribution in 2021 and beyond!

intermodal transport signal light at train platform tracks

Intermodal Transport and Freight Shipping Services

The intermodal transportation industry is booming, and for good reason. It’s not just the low cost that makes intermodal transport so appealing to businesses; it’s also more efficient and reliable.

Most Canadians know intermodal transport as rail transportation. A lack of knowledge, outdated metrics, and misconceptions about intermodal transport have combined to suppress its market value – making it a truly untapped market for businesses.

Intermodal transportation: A quick definition

Intermodal transportation is the method of transporting intermodals, or cargo containers, between different modes of transport.

How does intermodal transportation work?

The intermodal transport process begins on a truck or railcar, where cargo is unloaded and placed into an intermodal container.

These containers are then transferred to the intermodal terminal via ocean freight or vice versa. When arriving at the final destination, they’re offloaded for domestic shipping and delivery by trucking companies.

The difference between multimodal transport and intermodal transportation

A common misconception is that intermodal transport and multimodal transportation are the same.

When a container is moved via multiple modes of transportation without being opened it’s called intermodal.

But if goods inside are opened and then transferred to another mode of transportation then it becomes known as multimodal transport.

The Types of Intermodal Transportation

  1. Truck transport intermodal
  2. Rail intermodal transportation
  3. Air freight intermodal
  4. Sea or Ocean freight intermodal transport

Truck transport intermodal

Truck intermodal is a method of transporting goods overland. It’s most commonly used for moving freight from one point to another quickly and efficiently, often between cities or provinces within Canada.

Rail intermodal transportation

Rail intermodal is the process of loading cargo onto railcars at origin and unloading it at the destination. It’s often used when moving goods over long distances and offers a cost-effective alternative to truck intermodal freight shipping services.

Air freight intermodal

Air intermodal is the process of transporting cargo by air from the origin point to the airport for transfer into aircrafts or vice versa.

Sea or Ocean freight intermodal transport

Sea intermodal is the transportation of goods by boat from one point to another. It’s an eco-friendly way for a company to reduce its carbon footprint, and can also save them money on fuel costs in comparison with trucking but not necessarily against rail.

The Benefits of Intermodal

7 Reasons why a Canadian business should branch out into intermodal

1. Reduce costs. Intermodal transportation saves you money!

Intermodal logistics are sometimes thousands of dollars less than truckloads and often lead to better on-time shipments. Even where modal transit costs just slightly less at the cost of carrying one load, savings are usually significant over a longer period.

Businesses that are a good fit for intermodal can expect to save between 10% to 15%.

2. Scalability. Intermodal transportation opens up your options for international distribution

Moving cargo shipments across the country in a cost-effective manner means greater opportunities for expansion. The less time your products spend in transit the faster and further you’re able to ship your products to increase your customer reach.

3. Better for the Environment. Intermodal transport is more environmentally friendly than other modes of transportation. 

Train transportation is four times more efficient than a truckload. A fully loaded intermodal train removes 280 vehicles off the road and reduces the need for air freight transportation as well.

With fewer trucks on the roads, there’s also a reduction in noise pollution and highways are less congested.

4. Efficiency. It increases productivity with less time spent on loading and unloading containers.

Every minute counts in the shipping industry. And every lost minute can be costly for a business. When it comes down to shipping—the faster a package can be delivered, the less money will needlessly get spent on delivering that package later.

5. Reduce Risk. Intermodal transportation is safer than other modes.

Rail is still a safe and cost-effective means of transportation. Not only are accidents rarer, but there’s less risk for theft.

6. Capacity. It is scalable as you need it to be.

Intermodal transportation can also help businesses grow their capacity in a cost-effective and sustainable way. A business may have the ability to interconnect with other intermodal providers that allow for more freight volume from one location to another, thus making an investment in intermodal worth it.

Intermodal Transportation Is Growing! Work With an Intermodal Partner You Can Trust.

Intermodal transportation is on the rise, and it’s not going anywhere. In 2019 intermodal was responsible for more than 37.2M tonnes of containers on flat cars shipping.

Intermodal is a smart business move that can help you grow your company in a sustainable way and with the right partner on your side help you save beyond anything you’ve imagined.

RailGateway is a Canadian company that provides rail services, moving full loads across the country at an affordable rate.

With seamless service and quality customer care, RailGateway has ensured its success in this industry by giving customers what they want: on-time, affordably priced intermodal transport.

RailGateway is a Canadian business that wants to make your life easier. Get your quote today to see the difference we can make for you.