Intermodal Freight Transport On The Rise - Rail Revenues Growing

What is Intermodal freight transport? It is the transporting of freight in a standardized steel container which can be moved from one kind of transportation to another, for instance from truck to ship to rail.

(intermodal shipping)

When the container is shipped it does not have to be reloaded when it is transferred from one type of shipping the container to the next.

This type of shipping is claimed to reduce costs over road trucking, plus it goes through less hands to handle the contents, which means less stealing, less breakage.

The 1st 50 years of this type of freight transport was slow in building, but in 1993 we saw much more utilization of this mode of transportation, I am sure you have seen the trailer containers on the flat cars of trains.

From a new article that I read from Clifford F. Lynch-

That hasn’t gone unnoticed by the motor carriers. Faced with rising fuel costs and driver shortages (and encouraged by greatly improved intermodal service), truckers have increasingly diverted highway traffic to the rails. J.B. Hunt is a case in point. The J.B. Hunt Intermodal business segment was formed in 1989, when Hunt entered into an agreement with BNSF Railway to jointly market intermodal service. By 2012, J.B. Hunt had over 50,000 53-foot trailers in service, one of the largest fleets of company-owned equipment in North America. On 10 different occasions, JBH has been chosen as Wal-Mart’s Intermodal Carrier of the Year, an interesting distinction for a motor carrier.

The reason more carriers are climbing on board is all kinds of efficiency—fuel and other types.

An average intermodal train hauls an equivalent of 280 truck loads of freight and moves 1 ton 480 miles on a just 1 gallon of fuel.

We can quickly see that this will reduce both highway traffic and carbon emissions.

Rail service has improved greatly over the years, and if current trends continue, intermodal will be an ongoing significant factor in rail revenues and growth. The rail carriers obviously are committed to making this happen. Most of the Class I carriers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on state-of-the-art intermodal yards. For example, the BNSF Railway, which has already invested in a significant network of intermodal yards, recently announced the construction of still another facility in Edgerton, Kan., at a cost of $250 million. On Jan. 25, CSX announced a new intermodal terminal in Quebec. This 89-acre, $100 million facility will handle 100,000 lifts per year and will connect this region of Canada with NAFTA trading partners in the U.S. Courtesy of

Lets face it, intermodal will continue to expand. Even with a slow down of imports,which many people predict, the advantages of intermodal service has been around long enough to increase its value and bigger role in the transport supply chain.

I remember when I first noticed the intermodal carriers on flatbed trains, I thought they were just transporting empty trailers from one area to the next.

I should of went to school to be able to drive a train, I guess you need to get some kind of engineers degree, I bet you are well paid.

No backing in docks, no worry about tickets, weigh stations or cars, (unless you slam into one) I am sure when they stop, there aren’t a lot of lot lizards that come knocking on the door.

I wonder if you need to carry a CTDL (commercial train drivers license) with you? Ok I just made that term up.




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