Rail Container Sizes, Details & Specifications

One determining factor in a successful shipping strategy is to opt for the correct type of containers.

Two criteria, in particular, have to be double-checked: the container dimensions affecting the load capacity and the type of cargo container you need.

At RailGateway, we offer two intermodal shipping container sizes, made to fit different load capacity requirements.

Shipping Container Dimensions used at RailGateway

The shipping containers dimensions used for our services are intermodal containers with a size and capacity designation of either 53′ High Cube or 40′ High Cube shipping containers.

All our shipping containers are dry storage containers, designed to carry dry materials. We do not transport refrigerated products.

Find below are our size and capacity specifications:

53′ high cube Dry van / container

Inside Dimensions

52.5′ long x 98″ wide x 108″ high

Maximum Weight


What it means to you

26 – 30 skids depending upon the actual dimensions of each skid

40′ high cube Dry van / container

Inside Dimensions

39.5′ long x 92″ wide x 100″ high

Maximum Weight


What it means to you

Due to the width being only 92″ wide, you must be careful how you load these containers. 48″ skids will not fit side by side.

Standard Shipping Rail Container Sizes VS High Cube Containers

The Standardization of shipping containers

As rail traffic has evolved, it became a major challenge to standardize exterior dimensions, size, and capacity specifications to allow seamless transportation and movement of intermodal cargo.

Railroads have then developed standardized shipping containers that align with the common and ISO standards, in order to safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively ship rail cargo across Canada and generally speaking, across the world.

Two major shipping container sizes are in use nowadays:

  • The ISO standard containers, are the ones set by the¬†International Organization for Standardization thanks to the ISO 688 standard. They are the most common ones, used all over the world.
  • The “High Cube Containers”, are based on a common USA/Canadian standard (used for instance by CN and CP rail companies), with slightly taller containers.

Dimensions differences between Standard and High Cubes containers

The major difference between the two rail containers is the height.

While ISO containers are 8’6″ or 2.59 meters tall, high cube containers have a height of 9’6″ or approximately 2.90 meters high.

This represents an increase of one foot or 0.305 meters over the standard rail container height. It allows businesses to fit more merchandise in the container’s interior while keeping the same length.

The Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) rail container specifications

Good to know: The rail container dimensions are also used to determine the rail container capacity. These are expressed in “Twenty-foot Equivalent Units” or TEUs.

Standard shipping containers are 20′ long (around 6.06 meters), 8’6″ high (around 2.59 meters), and 8′ wide (around 2.44 meters), which calculates to 38.29 square meters of rail cargo-carrying space. The 40′ long (12.19 meters) is another standard cargo container size.pace. The 40′ long (12.19 meters) is another standard common size.