Preparing for Success with Intermodal Rail: Reducing the Risk of Loss, Damage, and Claims

The intermodal rail industry has seen a steady increase in the volume of goods shipped by rail intermodal containers.

More and more companies are choosing railroads and taking advantage of the efficiencies that come along with intermodal transportation.

Unfortunately, many businesses are unaware that they may be exposed to increased intermodal shipping risks.

At RailGateway, we want you to know what these risks are so you can prepare yourself for rail intermodal traffic success!

This blog post will go over the many different steps that need to be taken in order to reduce the risk of loss, damage, and claims from shipping with rail intermodal.

Be sure you have a plan in place before your next shipment by reading this article!

Intermodal Freight

The world of shipping logistics is changing and evolving, and so are the options available to shippers.

Intermodal rail has many benefits over other modes of intermodal transport such as trucking or air freight, but it also comes with some unique uncertainties for your cargo. 

One way to reduce these risks is by being prepared in advance and there’s a lot you can do ahead of time that will make your experience with rail go smoothly from start to finish!

damaged cardboard box next to a transport truck

5 Steps in Reducing the Risk in Your Rail Supply Chain Intermodal Service

Shipping with rail is a safe and secure way to move freight. That said, you can’t prevent loss or damage all of the time but you can be prepared for them for when it does happen.

1. Step One: Packaging

The first step you can take is knowing how your rail intermodal freight is handled by your vendor.

It’s generally the simplest instructions that have the biggest impact. When it comes to packing your items, you should constantly examine how your vendors are handling your freight and how well they follow proper practices.

Shipments must be packed in a container that’s appropriate for their contents. Never exceed the maximum capacity of the gross weight of the container.

Double stacked containers have a maximum stack load that must be followed. Stacking pins are used to organize and stack containers on top of one another. And each pin has a locking pin on one end and a plate.

Containers that are locked together can help to minimize the chance that they will shift during transit. As a result, container stacking pins are usually worth the investment.

Lastly, any contents that are susceptible to damage during transport should be wrapped or packed securely in the container.

2. Shipment and rail transport labeling

The next step in preparing your rail freight for success is labeling.

Railroad companies require that all shipments are properly labeled with the appropriate information to help identify the shipment and where it’s going.

It should be noted that light markings can fade over time, so any labels placed on equipment or containers need to be kept up-to-date.

In addition to this, there are a few other labeling tips that can help reduce the risk of loss and damage when shipping with rail:

  • Labels should not be placed on top of sealing tape or over a seam or closure.
  • Cover old labels or remove them entirely
  • Place an identical form of address information within the container for further security.

3. Have the appropriate personnel in place

It’s imperative to employ skilled and experienced personnel to thoroughly examine each shipment.

Intermodal rail loads must be compared to airbills or truck bills at the final destination.

  • Is the correct number of containers accounted for?
  • Is anything damaged?
  • If boxes are open, are all the contents accounted for and in good condition?

It’s also best practice to ensure that inspections are done thoroughly prior to signing for any shipment.

4. Choose the right lift equipment

A forklift is a valuable tool for any company that needs to stack containers.

Forklifts come in different types, depending on the height of your stacks and what type of job you need.

If it looks like there might be any trouble handling larger loads, consider using cranes.

5. Make sure you have a plan

When working with any form of intermodal volume, it’s important to know your rights as a shipper.

If your cargo is misplaced or damaged, you need to know what steps to take and who will be there for you when that happens. 

Stop the unloading process if there is any obvious damage to the items. Notify your carrier and/or insurance provider (if applicable) as soon as possible if there is any apparent harm to the goods. 

If extensive damage is reported, your transportation company may demand that a surveyor be sent to assist with the unloading.

Railgateway is here to help you with any loss or damage questions that you may have. We are committed to providing our clients with reliable, safe, and cost-effective services.

You should familiarize yourself with your rail intermodal insurance policy so that you know what it entails. And take note of any emergency contact details just in case.

Being prepared ahead of time can help ensure a smooth, quick recovery when issues do arise so be sure to have a plan and an intermodal transportation partner you can trust!

Common causes of cargo damage :

  • Packing Carelessly
  • Labels and markings that are incorrect
  • Unsafe movement of mechanical handling equipment
  • Incorrect weight loads & lifting gear

Shipping by rail offers a number of advantages over multiple modes of transportation. It’s generally faster, more cost-effective and it can be safer when the right precautions are taken.

At RailGateway we’re committed to helping you prepare for success with intermodal rail so that your shipments arrive safely and on time every time.

Whether you’re shipping from Montreal to Vancouver, Toronto to Edmonton to Calgary and back again – we have the experience you need to ship your cargo from the east coast to the west. Contact us today for your FREE quotation.