The Who, What, Why, and How of Full Load Intermodal Shipping

The intermodal shipping industry has changed a lot over the last few years. More and more companies are taking advantage of the benefits of intermodal shipping to cut down on transportation costs, fuel usage, and carbon footprint emissions. 

Let’s discuss what intermodal freight is, and why you should be considering full load intermodal rail transportation for your company’s freight shipping services in Canada.

What Does Full Load Intermodal Rail Mean?

Intermodal shipping is a method of transporting goods or cargo by using a combination of different modes of transportation to ship freight and goods from one location to another.

This includes using:

  • 40’ and 53’ shipping containers
  • trucks, trailers, and truckload deliveries
  • trains and railroads

Why is intermodal shipping so economical?

Intermodal freight transportation container fees tend to be lower than a full truckload. They’re also easier to load on ships and unload, which can reduce the cost of cargo handling and labour for international shipments.

It’s also more economical than other forms of freight shipping because it can reduce the number of carriers involved in the supply chain process and cut down on the number of vehicles required to deliver a load or shipment. This is especially true when rail is involved.

How long does intermodal transport take?

The time frame for an intermodal shipment depends on what form of transportation you are using, and where that destination may be located in comparison to your current location.

North American intermodal shipment services for example can take a few weeks when using ship carriers for international service.

Truck, air, and train intermodal shipping services can take up to a couple of days.

And U.S cross-border delivery – well that all depends on a variety of network capacity and carrier supply shipping restrictions. 

Looking for more information about full load intermodal rail shipping services within North America and Canada?

Contact a RailGateway.ca customer service expert to help you with cost, shipping service options today. We can help you save big on your next intermodal service logistics shipment.

Why is intermodal transportation important?

There are many significant reasons as to why intermodal transport is important in the shipping market: 

– Less noise pollution as trucks no longer pass through neighborhoods or small towns
– Ease in managing the planning processes with the elimination of traffic and customs processes on major highways
– Leaner planning process, eliminating the needed support for large volume shipments that can unexpectedly disrupt supply chain networks
– Fixed departure schedules means that customers can plan their own intermodal deliveries, with some help of course.

Intermodal transportation is a critical component in the modern supply chain, and for intermodal freight service in Canada, it’s important to make sure you’re not only opting for an economical form of shipping but also one that will be environmentally friendly.

The intermodal shipping process

With the costs of international shipping at record highs, and numerous air transportation delays, intermodal shipping within domestic ports has become an effective and money saving solution.

Suppose your company’s goods are transported via truck to a seaport, then loaded onto rail cars for transport inland. The process of intermodal transportation can be broken as such:

  • Products are loaded onto a truck bed (chassis), then driven to the docks.
  • The container/ containers are then transported by truck or multiple trucks, to an intermodal shipping dock nearby. This kind of freight transportation is often referred to as “drayage.”
  • In order to ship or haul the containers by rail, they must first be lifted off of the chassis and onto rail cars.
  • When a container is delivered to its final destination (another intermodal ramp or cross section), it has to be put back on a truck for delivery.

Once your container is on the flat car or well car, it can travel for thousands of miles before arriving at its destination.

The intermodal ramp does not only lift cargo from truck to train—They are also responsible for loading/unloading containers and trailers and all other modes that move cargo, including air intermodal shipments.

Modes of Transportation

There are four modes of intermodal shipping:

– Truck intermodal freight service
– Intermodal container shipping (ship)
– Rail intermodal transport
– Air intermodal service

Intermodal freight shipping & rail

The difference between rail and intermodal is intermodal freight service is positioned to transport goods from shipper to consignee in intermodal containers by truck and rail from seaport to inland destinations.

It’s a significant form of transportation in North America, and Canada and RailGateway has been the #1 choice for intermodal shipping across Canada since 2001.

What products can you ship using intermodal shipping and what do intermodal containers carry?

Domestic full load Intermodal rail shipping can be used to ship any product that is hazardous and nonhazardous. Hazardous materials require specific containers, typically a Type 7 container and can not be interchanged.

Intermodal containers are routinely used to carry heavy machinery and equipment, furniture, non-perishable goods like clothes or electronics, and temperature sensitive perishable goods such as seafoods and medicines.

Intermodal containers can also be adapted to transport shipments of liquids and refrigerated cargo.

Who should use intermodal?

Intermodal shipping is available to any shipper and can help companies save money. The first and last mile is done by truck but the majority of each shipment is completed by rail, helping corporations save on costly last-mile logistics.

Essentially the question should be how far are you shipping?

Intermodal service can be a good choice for shippers who are moving goods and cargo over 1200 km (750 miles) or more. Long trips require lots of fuel, but rail can help to reduce this cost and promote a carbon footprint friendly mode of shipping. If your truckload must move longer than a single day, rail might be a sensible alternative.

We recommend intermodal freight service to any company that needs to transport goods from one province to another in Canada.

Intermodal shipping is the future of transportation. With containers being cost-effective and providing unparalleled service, it’s time to try out these new ways for a successful shipment!

Become a partner today! Request a quote to speak to one of our rail consulting experts.

From handling to delivery, you’ll gain flexibility and competitive prices for your business with our intermodal services.