Does your operation rely heavily on truckload shipping? With the recent spike in rates, rail could be a strategic alternative for saving time and money, among many other benefits.
Consider the following advantages of using rail:
Cost Efficiency Shippers can see a savings of 10%-40% by utilizing rail transport. Lower fuel costs compared to over the road (OTR) trucking, as well as less costs associated with drivers and the efficiency or routing, contribute to a generally cheaper overall price.
Reliability Rail is more reliable than OTR trucking due to standardized routes & schedules that are adhered to. Railways are also not subject to other delays that are seen with trucking such as weather & road closures, hours of service restrictions, traffic delays, etc.
Safety Rail is much safer than OTR as accidents and breakdowns are minimal in comparison. A single train can transport the equivalent of over 250 truckloads. Utilizing rail given in this scenario, there are 249 less changes of a breakdown occurring.
Additional Capacity When OTR capacity is tight, rail can be a great option. In some market conditions, demand is high for trucks which can put pressure on shippers to find a truck when they need it and at a reasonable price. Rail transport is often available when trucks are not.
Sustainability Trains burn much less fuel than trucks, making it the most fuel efficient and environmentally responsible mode of freight transportation. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), using rail instead of OTR transport, greenhouse gas emissions can be lowered by up to 75%.
Every mode of transportation does have it's pros and cons, which can be determined by other variables, such as time frame, urgency, budget, and so forth. With that said, here are a few disadvantages with shipping by rail to consider:
Limited Service Areas Although railways do have an extensive network of tracks and service areas, they do not cover the entire US, Canada or Mexico. Rail may not always be available to or from all locations.
Short Distance Rail is not always available and/or not economical for shipments moving shorter distances which would include less than 1000 miles.
Full Containers Only Rail is not available for LTL transport. Although some LTL carriers utilize railways in their transportation network, you generally may never even know it traveled on the rail and thus would not see any cost benefit.
Flexibility Rail transport is not as flexible as OTR. There are no expedited or “team driver” options to ensure quick arrival of freight. Multi pick ups/drops can only minimally be accommodated.
Transit Time Although Rail transit times have improved in recent years, it is still usually longer than OTR. However, in a lot of cases, it may only be a day or two longer than OTR and the cost savings may be worth the additional time in transit.
Restricted commodities Rail carriers have restricted and prohibited commodities that otherwise may not be, if transported via OTR.
As a 3PL with 20+ years serving transportation and logistics needs across the country, we understand it can be difficult to outweigh the pros and cons of various modes for delivery and transportation needs yourself.
Reach out to one of our dedicated logistics specialists to strategize and support your next shipment. office: (925) 386.8666 | firstname.lastname@example.org