How Is Intermodal Freight Transportation a Safer Way to Ship Your Goods?

Sending a large number of goods can be tricky and scary.

What if your merchandise is damaged in transport? What if it is stolen?

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 why and how it’s a safe way to ship this cargo.

Intermodal Freight Shipping

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

But what does intermodal mean?

To understand intermodal freight, it’s important to know what “intermodal” means.

Intermodal comes from the Latin words “inter” (between) and “modal” (modes), referring to combining two or more modes of transport for the shipment of goods across long distances.

Intermodal Modes of 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,
  • Rail Service with trains,
  • Water with container ships,
  • And air service with planes.

The Intermodal Shipping Process

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

They will then determine the best multiple modes of transportation for the shipment, considering factors such as cost, time, and the goods’ destination.

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

This means that your cargo will be loaded onto a one and only intermodal container and then transferred from truck to train, vessel or plane until it reaches its final destination.

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

Intermodal Freight Advantages

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

Using the railway system for a good part of the intermodal freight transport also helps reduce costs for the shipper: the workforce that needs to intervene is limited, the fuel use is lower, 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.

Intermodal transportation: The safest way to ship your cargo?

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, stopping 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.

This is a more secure method of transporting your goods since it minimizes the amount of handling they receive and, potentially, limits the damages and breakage of the goods.

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 the 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!