When choosing rail cars for shipping freight, companies quickly notice the cost advantages. It’s much easier to use rail cars for oversize or overweight loads instead of multiple trucks. It reduces issues with highway clearances and permitting. Rail is often a very effective way to move large equipment, pipe, and other dimensional cargo. If you analyst your cost-per-mile which should include, the cost of the product as well as all shipping costs, tariffs, taxes, insurance, handling fees, damage in transit, and any special material handling requirements, along with the weather and human issues, shipping by freight is much more cost-effective. Plus in most cases, your product is delivered on time regardless of traffic conditions, weather, or a sick or tired driver.
Train vs Truck
- Railcars can carry three to four truckloads at a time, moving between the same origin and destination pairs.
- Rail service is more cost-competitive the longer the length of haul.
- For companies who measure their carbon footprint, rail is a desirable mode of transportation.
- Weather and traffic are not a factor when shipping by train.
Many Types of Rail Cars
- One of the most popular rail cars is the boxcar. They are for general use and can carry products like packaged foods, paper, machinery, anything you might ship by truck. For shipping frozen or fresh items, there are boxcars that are refrigerated.
- Flatcars are often used for finished machinery, tractors, transformers, steel coils and plates, logs, pipes, and other large bulky products. They have a center beam for strapping finished lumber and building products.
- Bulkhead flatcars often carry pulp logs cut into 5-foot lengths used at paper mills. They are also used for pipes or other products that might shift if a bulkhead was not available to stabilize the load.
- Hopper cars come in several sizes and configurations and are typically loaded from the top. Some have covers to keep cargo dry in transit. Many hopper cars have a bottom gate allowing them to dump their product using gravity to unload. Open hopper cars move bulk products that are not affected by weather such as scrap, coal, stone, slag, gravel, and sand.
- Gondola cars are open-top cars with a flat bottom. Cars can reach up to 65-feet long and sides range between four to eight feet high. Great for moving loose bulk material.
- Tank cars are highly specialized to carry liquids including a wide range of chemicals, gases, fertilizer, and food products such as syrups, juices, and other beverage products.
Environmentally Friendly Freight Transportation
On average, trains are up to four times Trains, on average, are more fuel-efficient than trucks. Just one rail car can haul four times the amount of a truck. Gas emissions from using rail over truck transport are reduced by 75%. With fewer trucks on the road, the highways will require less maintenance. Road maintenance and repairs involve the use of heavy machinery that consumes gas, contributing more to greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer trucks on the road equal less traffic. The benefit of rail is that no fuel is wasted in traffic!
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