7 Steps in Making the Jump Into Rail Shipping in Canada

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Amylee Silva

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This post was last updated on April, 3rd 2023

If you’re not already aware, rail shipping is quickly becoming a popular way to move freight across the country.

Intermodal containers shipped via rail offer many advantages over long-haul trucking and can be an excellent option for companies looking for an economical and reliable transport solution. Rail has been around for more than 150 years, and it’s only getting bigger!

It’s time we talk about how businesses can get ready for rail transportation shipping in Canada.

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Table of contents

  1. Seven Steps in Getting Started with Rail Service
    • Learn the concept of rail shipping
    • Secure your cargo
    • Determine the type of cargo
    • Determine rail routes
    • Research the best rail shipping companies in Canada
    • Get a frieght quote
    • Negotiate
  1. Four reasons why you should switch to rail transportation
    • Cost Savings on your Supply chain
    • Moving freight in a more sustainable way
    • Safety for your Rail Shipment
    • Fast Shipping for your Rail Shipment
a happy rail shipping worker giving a thumbs up to a colleague

7 Steps in Getting Started with Rail Service

Rail shipping is a great way to transport goods across the country, and it’s becoming increasingly popular among businesses. If you’re thinking of making the jump into rail shipping, there are seven steps you need to take first:

1) Learn about the concept of rail shipping and how it works.

Rail shipping is different from other forms of transportation, so it’s important to understand the process before you start using it.

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2) Secure your cargo

The first step is self-evident. You must purchase the logistics you’ll need to transport your goods by rail in Canada!

Once you’ve secured your products, it’s time to think about where you want to go and how quickly.

Rail service is available between commercial zones across the country, so it’s important to find a rail-shipping partner who can help you determine which mode of transport – truck or rail – will be most economical based on your needs.

Once that’s all determined, then you’re ready to start shipping!

Rail shipping is an excellent option for companies looking to streamline their freight operations and take advantage of fast, economical deliveries.

3) Determine the type of cargo

Rail offers different services depending on your needs, including flatcars, full load intermodal containers, bulk materials, project cargos, etc.

Rail provides large quantities, long distances, and regional services for transporting many commodities.

Rail can move freight at significant savings over other modes because it is less labour-intensive when done correctly, reducing the cost per mile by as much as 25%.

Freight shipping by rail is easy when you partner with the experts at RailGateway. Contact our team of experts today!

4) Determine rail routes

Understanding and managing your inbound freight will help you determine which route is best for your shipment.

Rail is a unique mode of transportation because the train must adhere to local and federal laws. Strict rules govern rail movements, so you must have an experienced rail professional on your side who can ensure compliance with all regulations before any shipments move out.

1. Identify where your cargo shipment is arriving

2. Refer to the CN freight trains rail stations and terminals map

3. Cross-reference stations and terminals with distribution centers

4. Determine if there are any gaps within the pick and drop-off locations

5. Determine if the freight can be delivered to a loading dock, storage facility or if it needs door-to-door service.

At RailGateway, we can help determine any other options and identify the fastest, most cost-effective routes! Contact one of our rail intermodal service representatives to get started on rail transportation. Rail is a great way to ship, and we’d love to help you learn how!

5) Research the best rail shipping companies in Canada.

Not all companies offer the same shipping costs, services, or rates, so it’s important to do your homework and find a shipping company that meets your needs.

6) Get a Freight Quote

Once you’ve determined the type of cargo that needs to be shipped, it’s time to request a quote.

The easiest thing you can do is contact RailGateway with your full-load intermodal shipping requirements. We are happy to provide business customers with competitive domestic intermodal rail freight quotes and intermodal cross-border shipping to the US via the Mississippi corridor railway.

We will work with you to determine the best option for your rail freight shipment and provide an accurate estimate, so there are no surprises when it comes to costs!

At Railgateway, we offer a broad range of rail shipping services, including cross-border shipping ideal for customers shipping commodities in bulk. We can help arrange expedited door-to-door transportation with fast pickup and delivery options designed to meet tight time constraints at affordable prices.

7) Negotiate

Rail companies are constantly looking for new business, so they’ll likely be open to negotiating with small to medium-sized companies that want their services.

If negotiations go well, you’ll want to conduct a test run with your product to ensure that it’s the right size and meets rail freight regulations.

Once your shipments comply with rail regulations, then you’re ready for the final step – shipping!

Four reasons why you should switch to rail transportation

Rail transport has many advantages. It represents an efficient transportation model for companies to move materials worldwide.

1. Cost Savings on your Supply chain

Benefits include operating costs savings with a lower cost per mile than trucking, as they can ship higher volumes of merchandise at once.

2. Moving freight in a more sustainable way

As an environmentally friendly alternative to trucks, rail freight service also allows having less congestion on highways and better fuel efficiency than trailers. That also converts in fewer greenhouse gas emissions!

3. Safety for your Rail Shipment

Rail shipments are also more secure than other forms of transportation. Rail transport moves in a safe rail network, monitored continuously by Rail Authorities.

4. Fast Shipping for your Rail Shipment

Rail transportation is getting faster every day across Canada, making it an excellent option for today’s businesses’ “just-in-time” delivery schedules.

Forget about unexpected congestion on the road; shipping stuff across Canada on rail lines will make it easier!

Note that if your plants or warehouses don’t have direct rail access, most of them can also offer door-to-door service with convenient pickup options for items that can’t be delivered to a loading dock as extras!

Here are a few things to know before you start booking a freight train

There are some key things that businesses should keep in mind when preparing rail freight.

Rail transportation is not like trucking or other modes of transport run here in North America.

Train service operates on different systems and follows very specific guidelines for weight, size, hazardous materials, dangerous goods handling, etc.

Rail does not transport certain hazardous materials; this includes radioactive, corrosive, or flammable items, which must be labeled correctly before shipping via rail in Canada.

Looking for a Rail Freight Partner in Canada?

Rail Freight in Canada

Rail freight services have always been an important part of Canadian industry thanks to their many advantages over other forms of transport.

The rail network is operating in the most common parts of Canada thanks to major rail companies like Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, and intermodal traffic is increasing day after day.

If you’re interested in learning more about the top 18 railway terminals in Canada, check out our blog post to learn about the best rail terminals in Canada.

Wondering how you can make rail shipping a reality for your business?

With RailGateway, Canada rail freight shipping has never been easier. Contact our experts to know our intermodal rail services or request a rail freight quote here.

For more tips on getting started with intermodal rail transport, visit our blog!

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