What Is Intermodal?
By definition intermodal is the combination of more than one mode of cargo freight handling. The full spectrum of intermodal includes shipping by ship, railroad and over the road truck. Today we will focus on the rail to over the road transport. When shipping a full truckload via the rail the journey begins at the rail port. Local drivers, called drayage drivers pick up an empty 53’ box and delivers the rail trailer to the shipper’s door. The shipper proceeds to load the trailer as they would load a standard over the road trailer. The exception being the weight limit of 43,000 pounds. where the shipper will load the rail trailer like any other standard 53’over the road truck. The rail trailers dimensions are 53ft long x 8’2” wide x 9’1” high so there will be ample room to load 26 pallets on a rail trailer the same as a 53ft dry box. Once the rail trailer has been loaded it will be taken back to the rail yard where it will begin its journey to the consignee’s door.
Although the rail as a means of shipping commodities has been around for more than 100 years it wasn’t until the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 that began a huge turnaround for the rail. The rail had to go through growing pains in order to make it to the power force they are today. Today the rail enjoys huge profits because today’s shipping climate is very different than it was just 10 years ago. Shippers are willing to trade transit time for dollars in their pockets since today’s shipping rates are in some instances 100% more than they were just 10 years ago. It is not to say that the rails transit times are horrible, in some markets there are only 1 or 2 day differences and the savings are very attractive to both shippers and consignees. The rail of today is very efficient, has a low carbon footprint and is very reliable in tight markets where over the road trucks simply cannot keep up with demand. Many common items such as hair care products, pet food, furniture and everyday retail supplies are shipped using the rail. If you have been thinking about using the rail to reduce your shipping cost or to be more environmentally conscience then shipping via rail may be a perfect fit for you.