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About intermodal freight transport:

Intermodal freight transport. or rail plus freight as it is commonly referred, can be a very cost-effective and efficient method for shippers needing to transport freight over long distances, generally 750 miles or more. Many companies use intermodal shipping to move freight in an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly manner.

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 but also includes cargo ships, 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, but 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 to pick a company that will treat you just as well as their bigger customers.

• Communication:

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 are any problems that will keep your delivery from arriving on time?

• Experience:

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 overseas.