Intermodal Freight Services
The United States has a long history of moving freight via truck. When you drive cross-country, you see many semi-trucks moving along the highway. However, there is a form of freight transportation that is even older than trucking, and that’s by train. If you are trying to choose whether to use a truck or railway service to haul your cargo, the answer is simple: you can use both. Thanks to transportation companies that offer intermodal freight services, you can take advantage of the strengths of both forms of transportation.
Intermodal transportation uses more than one form of transportation to move your cargo. In the United States, intermodal transportation refers mostly to transportation via truck and railway. However, it also includes cargo chips, barges, or sometimes planes. What makes all these forms of transportation possible is the intermodal container, or shipping container. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published standards for shipping containers. Because these containers are standardized, they can be moved, loaded, stacked, and unloaded by any company that offers intermodal freight services, whether truck, railway, or ship.
Intermodal shipping is often more affordable than shipping by truck alone. This is because it combines the cost-saving advantages both trains and trucks provide. When cargo is moved via railway, much more freight can be used for the same amount of energy that a truck uses alone. In fact, using one intermodal train has the effect of eliminating 280 trucks from the highway. Not only is intermodal transportation more cost-effective, it is also friendlier to the environment.
While a railroad can move your freight efficiently from one city to another, it is highly unlikely it can deliver your goods from portal to portal. To get your product from your loading dock to the railroad and from the railroad directly to the customer requires a truck to deliver your freight to the final address. A solid and reliable trucking company is an important player in this win-win situation.
When you choose an intermodal freight service, you want to evaluate at least three qualities of the company: customer service, communication, and experience.
• Customer Service
First, when you choose an intermodal freight service, you want a company that offers great customer service. Will they give you personalized attention? If you are a large company, do they have the infrastructure to handle a large or complex hauling job? On the other hand, if you have a smaller load, will they treat you just as importantly as a customer with a huge load? You want to make sure that you pick a company that will treat you just as well as their bigger customers.
First, make sure you get your agreement in writing. Look carefully at your contract to make sure that there will be no surprise costs incurred at the end. Also, you will want to ask the company how they communicate the status of your delivery to you. Do they offer an online tracking system? Do they send emails or faxes that give the status of your cargo? Will they let you know if there’s any problems that will keep your delivery from arriving on time?
An experienced company has access to both private-access providers and class 1 railroads. They will also have relationships with ocean carriers and air freight operators if your freight needs to be hauled oversea.
The next time you need to ship your freight, consider the economical advantages of intermodal freight services. Truck and train can work together to provide you with the most cost-effective and efficient mode of product transportation.