Meet the Intermodal Carriers: Understanding Who They Are and How to Work With Them

Companies looking for efficient freight transportation across North America should not take the intermodal shipping industry lightly.

It’s not about picking a single mode of transportation or expediting the delivery of your items. It’s about determining an efficient and secure method to transport your products across the country. And, for your business to flourish, you must pick a suitable intermodal carrier that can assist you.

We want to help you understand what an intermodal carrier is, who they serve, and how they function. We’ll go through how you can collaborate with them to handle intermodal shipments across Canada and North America in an efficient manner.

Understanding Intermodal Freight Transportation

What is intermodal shipping?

Intermodal transportation involves the transfer of your cargo from Point A to Point B, using two or more modes of transport, such as truck and rail.

Who are the main actors of intermodal shipping?

First, you have the shipper or client looking for a cost-effective and efficient way to move their freight.

Then, you have the intermodal service provider or transporter. This company provides the transportation mode between two points, whether it be trucking, railcar loading, or container shipping.

And finally, you have the freight forwarder. This company is an intermodal carrier’s partner, and they handle the waybill, booking, and all other intermodal paperwork. These intermodal service providers help link all of the carriers involved in the intermodal shipping of the merchandise.

What is the usual intermodal transportation process?

The intermodal transportation process usually starts with the shipper, who has a product they need to get from one destination (wholesaler or distribution centre) to another destination, typically the end consumer. Depending on budget and needs, the shipper will work with a freight forwarder to choose the best mode of transport.

Once the goods are picked up, a drayage service will take the intermodal container(s) to a terminal, where they will be transferred onto another mode of transportation, typically rail.

The intermodal carrier will then deliver the cargo to its final destination, where the containers are again transferred onto another transport mode or taken directly to the final consignee.

Working with an intermodal carrier is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to find a reliable intermodal freight forwarder that can act as a single point of contact to help you with your logistical supply chain.

One with competitive rail prices that can provide support at rail terminals, coordinate with road transport, loading docks, and more while delivering exceptional service.

An intermodal shipping service will connect different modes of transportation to help you form a seamless supply chain process.

Intermodal freight transportation in Canada?

If you’re shipping across Canada, you might want to have a look at our full load rail service company, using the CP and CN railway system as a low carbon footprint and cost-effective solution to deliver your goods easily. 

From Montreal to Edmonton, Toronto to Vancouver, and everything else in between the east coast to the west, we here are RailGateway can get your goods where they need to go and at the best rates possible.

We’re Canada’s number one choice for full load intermodal rail transport shipping, and we’re here to help make the process as easy as possible.

Stop wondering if we would be ideal for you, and get a free quote now to evaluate if our service can fit your needs!

What is an intermodal carrier?

What do logistics companies do?

As seen before, intermodal freight carriers are intermodal transportation companies specializing in moving goods, usually full load and through intermodal containers, from a particular place to another.

This means they are experts at getting cargo from a ship onto a truck, then onto a railcar, and vice versa. But that’s not all! They can also collect your goods from an air cargo terminal if you need any last-minute intermodal shipments.

What are the responsibilities and services of an intermodal carrier?

Aside from transporting, intermodal carriers can also provide various services, including storage and transfers across modes of transportation to complete their mission.

At intermodal yards and other facilities, a carrier can arrange the use of cranes for stacking containers or the use of forklifts to move them around.

Finally, they may have warehouses strategically positioned near ocean ports, Canadian and American railroads, ensuring that whatever you need will be close by.

The best part about intermodal carriers?

They’re experts at optimizing routes for cost savings and efficiency, meaning they’ll always find the cheapest way to get your shipment where it needs to go.

Intermodal operators can often offer more flexible and environmentally friendly solutions than transporting your goods by truck alone.

How do they work with shippers and other intermodal providers?

An intermodal carrier may not work directly with the shipper in some cases. But are usually in direct contact with freight forwarders to find the best intermodal transportation solution for their customers.

These individuals will collaborate with them to book their services and manage and oversee the whole shipment process.

This way, shippers can focus on their business while freight forwarders take care of all the logistics.

Sounds great so far? So how do you get started?

Should you work with intermodal shipping carriers?

Who uses intermodal transportation providers?

Many businesses do! From manufacturing firms to construction companies to e-commerce and retail businesses, if you’re looking for an efficient way to ship your products, then you should consider intermodal transportation.

How to work with intermodal carriers?

The best way to find an intermodal carrier is to reach out to a freight forwarder that can work with intermodal providers and railway operators on your behalf.

This way, you’ll get the help you need from experts who know how intermodal transportation works! Also, you might benefit from pooled volume discounts so that your shipment can be cheaper.

How can you benefit from working with intermodal carriers?

Your intermodal carriers may help you save money by streamlining the transportation of your goods.

And even if it’s not, intermodal transportation is still a sustainable choice for businesses because it reduces carbon emissions from truck transport services and congestion on the roads!

Freight railroads are more secure and safer in extreme weather, transporting environmental hazards, and time-efficient when compared to shipping goods by truck.


A win-win situation? We think so. That’s why we’re here to help with intermodal rail shipping!

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to know more about intermodal carriers and the services we offer.