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Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal freight transportation definition.

Intermodal is the use of two modes of freight, such as truck and rail, to transport goods from shipper to consignee. The intermodal process usually begins with a container being moved by a truck to a rail, then back to a truck to complete the process. There are about 25 million containers moved via intermodal shipping each year.


Benefits of intermodal freight transportation.

  • The railway system requires less fuel than road transport. Therefore, intermodal shipping lowers costs and contributes to a greener environment.
  • North America’s comprehensive rail network makes it possible to send shipments from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and everywhere in between.
  • When you need to make additional space on your dock, or prepare and load a shipment over the course of days, dropped intermodal container fees are minimal in comparison to full truckload.


Intermodal shipping best practices.

  • Identify the opportunity: Intermodal can be a solid selection for shippers that are sending multiple LTL shipments to the same destination several times a week. Additionally, intermodal is a great way to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint.
  • Package carefully: Intermodal shipments do not typically leave the container between the shipping origin and destination. However, the container itself experiences quite a bit of movement throughout the process. Blocking and bracing techniques should be used to keep freight from moving within the container.
  • Work with a freight service provider: Teaming up with intermodal transportation experts will make the process less stressful from start to finish. It’s important to select a provider that has the ability to negotiate rates with Class 1 railroads.


Common intermodal transportation questions.

  • When should you choose intermodal shipping? Shipments best suited for intermodal are typically longer haul lanes moving within 200-300 miles of a major metro.
  • What is drayage service? Short distance trucking as part of a longer distance freight shipment.
  • What type of freight solution do I need? To determine which shipping solution meets your needs, a number of factors need to be considered. Our dedicated experts can help find the right solution for you.