Intermodal | FreightCenter (2024)

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Unlock boundless possibilities with our intermodal service! Seamlessly combining rail, road, and sea, we deliver your cargo with unmatched efficiency and speed. Explore our dynamic shipping solutions and revolutionize your logistics journey today!

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What Is Intermodal Rail Freight?

Intermodal rail freight is a transportation option that combines rail and truck shipping to transport freight over long distances. Intermodal rail freight involves shipping the freight by rail to a rail hub, where it is then transferred to a truck for final delivery to its destination. Intermodal rail freight can offer substantial cost savings over traditional truckload shipping, especially for long-distance shipments. It can also be a more environmentally friendly option, as shipping by rail produces fewer emissions than shipping by truck.

Intermodal rail freight is particularly well-suited for shipping hazardous materials or oversized items, as it offers higher safety and security than traditional trucking methods. It also provides more flexibility than shipping by rail alone, as trucks allow for more precise delivery to the final destination.

At FreightCenter, we work with various carriers specializing in intermodal rail freight to provide our customers with reliable and cost-effective shipping options. Our experienced team can help you select the best carrier and shipping option for your shipment to ensure it arrives at its destination safely and on time.

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We provide competitive freight shipping prices and an all-inclusive, easy-to-use shipping experience for our customers. Exceeding our customers’ expectations results in thousands of satisfied customer reviews and repeat business. We believe in the power of our customer relationships. Check out FreightCenter reviews from real customers, and learn what they have to say about their freight shipping experience!

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Why Choose FreightCenter For Intermodal Freight Services?

Are you looking for a reliable and cost-effective way to transport your freight over long distances? Look no further than FreightCenter’s intermodal freight services!

We understand that shipping your freight can be stressful and time-consuming, so we offer a range of intermodal freight services to meet your unique shipping needs. Whether you need to transport hazardous materials, oversized items, or just a large freight volume, we have the experience and expertise to do the job.

So why choose FreightCenter for your intermodal freight services? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Extensive Network: Our network includes a wide range of carriers that specialize in intermodal freight services. This allows us to offer competitive rates and various shipping options to meet your needs.
  • Expertise: Our team of experienced shipping experts has the knowledge and expertise to handle even the most complex intermodal freight shipments. We can help you navigate the shipping process from start to finish, ensuring that your freight arrives at its destination safely and on time.
  • Technology: We use the latest technology to provide real-time tracking and updates on your shipment, so you always know where your freight is and when it will arrive.
  • Customer Service: Our dedicated customer service team is available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your intermodal freight shipment. We are committed to providing excellent customer service and ensuring your satisfaction with every shipment.

At FreightCenter, we are committed to providing our customers with reliable, cost-effective, and efficient intermodal freight services. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your next shipment! Call Us 800-716-7608

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25 Years In Business

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What is Rail Freight?

Rail freight is a type of transportation that uses trains to move goods from one location to another. It is typically used to transport large and heavy loads, such as raw materials, equipment, and finished goods. Rail freight can be used for domestic and international shipments and combined with other modes of transportation, such as trucks and ships, to create an intermodal supply chain.

Carbon Footprint of Intermodal Rail

As mentioned above, shipping by train is much more fuel efficient than by truck. Trains have an excellent MPG rating and make fewer stops. In other words, they use a lot less fuel. Less fuel means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

If you have a truckload of freight, please consider using rail freight services. You won’t just be saving money, but you’ll be protecting the environment!

Rail freight is a highly efficient and eco-friendly mode of transportation that is gaining popularity among businesses and consumers alike. With an increasing concern for the environment and a need to reduce carbon emissions, rail freight is becoming a preferred choice for shipping large and heavy loads. This landing page will explore why rail freight is a greener option and how it can benefit your business.

Why is Rail Freight Greener?

Rail freight is a greener option compared to other modes of transportation, such as trucks and planes. Here are some reasons why:

  • Energy Efficient: Rail freight is a highly energy-efficient mode of transportation. Trains are four times more fuel-efficient than trucks on average.
  • Reduced Congestion: Rail freight can help reduce traffic congestion on highways, leading to reduced emissions and less wear and tear on roads.
  • Reduced Air Pollution: Rail freight produces less air pollution than trucks. Trains have a higher weight-to-emissions ratio than trucks, emitting fewer pollutants per ton-mile.
  • Reduced Noise Pollution: Rail freight is generally quieter than other modes of transportation, such as trucks and planes. This can reduce noise pollution.
  • Sustainable Operations: Rail freight companies increasingly adopt sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact.

What are the Benefits of Intermodal Freight Shipping?

Railroads for land transportation can offer considerable cost savings depending upon the length and distance from a port or tunnel to where your goods will be loaded onto another vehicle. Generally speaking, the longer these routes are – say over 1 thousand miles- the more you’ll save! This is because it takes less time than just getting into trucks immediately after loading them onto ships at sea, thus reducing fuel consumption by up to 40%.

Intermodal transportation is a great way to transport goods when there is a tight truck capacity or driver shortage. One advantage of intermodal over other modes, such as railroads, ships, etc., lies in its operational nature. Doubling container load capacities on some trains means you don’t need two drivers per train! Dray can offer more flexibility and reliability due to its ability to turn multiple loads into one shipment.

Truckload transportation has an advantage over rail. This is because it can be driven by a driver who operates their truck before taking on another load. This means there is no need to station them at both origin and destination ramps, which saves money on fuel costs! In addition, containerized goods are often double stacked onto each other when being transported by trucks making the total carrying capacity higher than what would otherwise always exist if loaded alone into cars or trains – this also helps protect against any damage caused during transport due out interference between variously sized pieces being carried together without.

What Are the Benefits of Rail Freight for Your Business?

  • Cost Savings: Rail freight is a cost-effective option for shipping large and heavy loads. Trains move more cargo in one trip than a truck, reducing transportation costs.
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: By using rail freight, your business can reduce its carbon footprint and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
  • Improved Reliability: Rail freight is often more reliable than other modes of transportation, such as trucks. Trains operate on a set schedule.
  • Increased Security: Rail freight can be more secure than other modes of transportation, such as trucks. Trains are less susceptible to theft and accidents on the road.
  • Improved Supply Chain Efficiency: By using rail freight as part of an intermodal supply chain, your business can improve overall supply chain efficiency.Inter

Rail freight is a greener and more sustainable option for shipping large and heavy loads. It produces fewer emissions per ton-mile than other modes of transportation, reduces congestion, and is more energy-efficient. By using rail freight, your business can reduce transportation costs.

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Intermodal vs. Rail Freight

Intermodal freight and rail freight are both transportation options for moving goods from one location to another, but there are some critical differences between the two.
Rail freight refers to the movement of goods by rail. This typically involves shipping cargo on a train, which can be owned and operated by a railroad company or a third-party logistics provider. Rail freight is generally used for sending large and heavy goods, such as coal, grain, and automobiles, over long distances. The cargo is usually loaded onto specialized railcars designed to transport the specific type of cargo.

Intermodal freight is typically used for shipping smaller and lighter goods over shorter distances, such as consumer goods, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, intermodal freight involves multiple modes of transportation to move goods from one location to another. This may include shipping cargo by rail, truck, ship, or a combination of these modes.

One of the main benefits of intermodal freight is its flexibility. Since it can involve multiple modes of transportation, it can be customized to meet the specific needs of a shipment. For example, cargo may be transported by rail to a particular location, then loaded onto a truck for delivery to its final destination. This allows for greater customization and control over the shipment and can help to reduce shipping costs and transit times.

Another critical difference between rail freight and intermodal freight is the level of complexity involved. Rail freight typically affects only one transportation mode, making it a more straightforward process. Intermodal freight, on the other hand, requires coordination between multiple parties and modes of transportation, making it more complex and challenging to manage.

Overall, rail and intermodal freight offer unique benefits and are suitable for different types of shipments. Businesses should carefully consider their shipping needs and requirements when choosing between them. Factors such as the size and weight of the shipment, the distance to be traveled, and the desired transit time should all be considered when making a decision.

Is Shipping by Rail Cheaper?

The short answer is yes! When you use a trucking carrier, you pay the fuel, fees, tolls, labor, and other associated costs. When you use intermodal services, hundreds of containers are moved simultaneously. That lowers the cost per load.

Regarding shipping large volumes of freight over long distances, rail transportation can offer significant cost savings compared to traditional trucking methods. Rail transportation is more fuel-efficient than trucking, which means it can simultaneously move larger volumes of freight, resulting in lower transportation costs per cargo unit.

Additionally, rail transportation is often more reliable and has a lower accident rate than trucking, which can further reduce the risk and cost of transportation. Rail shipping can also help minimize highway traffic congestion and carbon emissions, making it a more sustainable transportation option.

However, it’s important to note that the cost of shipping by rail depends on several factors, including the distance, the type of freight being shipped, and the route taken. In some cases, trucking may be a more cost-effective option, especially for short distances or certain types of freight requiring more specialized handling or transportation.

Furthermore, rail shipping may involve additional fees and surcharges, such as accessorial charges for pickup and delivery, fuel surcharges, and equipment charges. These charges can add up quickly and affect the overall shipping cost by rail, so it’s important to factor them into your shipping decision.

When considering shipping by rail, it’s essential to compare the costs and benefits of different transportation options and work with a trusted freight broker or carrier to help you navigate the shipping process and find the most cost-effective solution.

Benefits of Using Intermodal Rail Freight

Intermodal rail freight is a type of transportation that uses a combination of rail and other modes of transport, such as trucks and ships, to move goods from one place to another. This mode of transportation offers several benefits beyond just cost savings, which are:

Environmentally Friendly: Intermodal rail freight produces fewer emissions per ton-mile than trucking, making it a more sustainable option. Rail transportation uses less fuel per ton-mile than road transportation, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, trains can transport more freight in one trip than a truck, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and reducing emissions.

Increased Security:

Rail freight can be more secure than trucking. Trains are less susceptible to theft and accidents on the road, making them a safer option for shipping high-value or sensitive cargo. Additionally, the containers used in intermodal rail transport are often more secure and durable, which protects the load from damage and theft.

Reduced Congestion:

Rail freight can help reduce traffic congestion on highways and wear and tear on roads, benefiting the overall transportation system. Using rail freight can also free up highway space for other vehicles, reducing the number of accidents and improving overall road safety.

Increased Capacity:

Rail freight has the potential to move a larger volume of cargo at once than trucks. This can be especially advantageous for companies with large quantities of freight to transport. Trains can transport more cargo in one trip than a truck, reducing the number of trips needed to move the shipment and ultimately reducing transportation costs.


Rail freight is often more reliable than trucking. Trains operate on a set schedule, which reduces the likelihood of delays caused by traffic or weather-related issues. This makes rail freight an attractive option for companies transporting goods on a specific timeline.


Intermodal rail freight allows for flexibility in transportation planning. This flexibility will enable companies to customize their shipping plans to meet specific needs and requirements. It can be combined with other modes of transportation, such as trucks and ships, to create a more efficient and effective supply chain.

Intermodal rail freight offers several benefits beyond cost savings, including environmental sustainability, increased security, reduced congestion, increased capacity, reliability, and flexibility. Companies that transport large and heavy loads should consider this mode of transportation as a viable option to improve their overall transportation system.

Finely-tailored freight solutions

To create value for our customers by delivering customized shipping solutions that meet their unique needs and to fulfill shipping demands from simple to complex with expertise, guidance and ingenuity.

LTL Shipping Trust the experts at FreightCenter to give you the best prices and the most comprehensive options for all your LTL freight shipping needs. Learn More Full Truckload We deliver optimized solutions for full or partial truckloads and competitive dry van, flatbed, and refrigerated freight pricing. We can cover your full truckload shipping needs. Learn More Expedited Services Nationwide Expedited Trucking services move your freight securely and rapidly. Your freight requires fast delivery; our freight shipping experts can get your shipment fast, whether in one large box or a full truckload. Learn More Specialized Freight Shipping The most reliable Specialized Freight Services rates from all the top carriers are just a few steps away. From white glove service to international shipping, we've got you covered. Learn More

What Are The Type Of Intermodal Freight?

Different types of intermodal transport. Intermodal transport uses multiple modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, and ships, to transport freight from its origin to its destination. This type of transportation is becoming increasingly popular due to its cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits.

Several types of intermodal transport are available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here is a closer look at some of the most common types of intermodal transport:

Containerized Intermodal: This is the most commonly used type of intermodal transport. Containerized intermodal transport involves using standardized containers that can be easily transferred from one mode of transportation to another, such as from a truck to a train or a ship. These containers come in various sizes, including 20 feet, 40 feet, and 45 feet, and can be used for multiple cargo types.

Trailer-on-Flatcar (TOFC) Intermodal: TOFC intermodal involves using trucks to transport cargo trailers onto flatcars, then transported by rail to their destination. This intermodal is typically used for shorter distances or when time is of the essence. It can reduce transit times by eliminating the need to unload and reload cargo.

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) Intermodal: RoRo intermodal is commonly used to transport vehicles, such as cars, trucks, and buses. This intermodal involves using specialized vessels or ferries with ramps, which allow vehicles to be driven onto and off the ship. RoRo intermodal is a fast and efficient way to transport vehicles, but the availability of suitable ports can limit it.

Piggyback Intermodal: Piggyback Intermodal involves using trucks to transport cargo containers or trailers on a specialized trailer, which is then transported by rail. This intermodal is commonly used for high-value, fragile, or time-sensitive cargo, as it provides greater security and protection during transportation.

At FreightCenter, we offer a wide range of intermodal transport options to suit your specific shipping needs. Our experienced logistics experts will work with you to determine the best type of intermodal transport for your cargo, considering factors such as distance, cargo type, transit time, and budget.

Our goal is to provide cost-effective and efficient intermodal transport options to help you grow your business while minimizing your environmental impact. Contact us today to learn more about our intermodal transport options and how we can help you streamline your shipping processes.

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Railway Freight Has Flexible Rates & Schedules

Railway freight offers flexible rates and schedules, which makes it a convenient option for businesses of all sizes. With rail freight, you can access more access points in Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, and North America, which means you can move your freight more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the flexibility of rail and truck freight services means that loading and unloading times are faster, saving you time and money.

Rail freight also offers a range of intermodal container shapes and sizes, including 20, 40, 45, 48, and 53-foot trailers. This provides businesses with a wide range of options when shipping their goods. With this variety of options, rail freight can meet the needs of any business, regardless of the size or nature of its shipment.

Moreover, rail freight offers endless options for linking destinations and multiple warehouses. This ensures that businesses can transport their goods to any location in North America without any hassle. Whether you need to transport goods to remote areas or major cities, rail freight can provide the solution.

While transit times can sometimes be longer than other shipping options, rail freight is ideal for businesses without a time crunch. Rail freight is also a more sustainable option, as it produces fewer emissions per ton-mile than trucking, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

At FreightCenter, we make rail shipping easy, manageable, and less expensive. Our team of experts can help you find the best freight trains and options for your specific needs, ensuring your shipment is delivered on time and within your budget. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business with shipping needs.

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The History of Intermodal Transport And the Future

Intermodal transport, the movement of goods using multiple modes of transportation, has a long and fascinating history dating back to the early 1900s. FreightCenter, a leading transportation management company, has played a significant role in the evolution of intermodal transport and continues to shape its future.

Early Intermodal Transport

Shipping goods over long distances in the early 20th century was slow and laborious. Merchandise was transported by horse-drawn carts or trains, which meant it could take weeks or even months for goods to reach their destination. However, the introduction of intermodal transport brought significant improvements to the industry. The first intermodal container was invented in the 1950s, allowing for more efficient and secure shipping of goods across multiple modes of transportation.

FreightCenter and Intermodal Transport

FreightCenter has been at the forefront of the intermodal transport industry since its inception in 1998. As a leading transportation management company, FreightCenter offers a wide range of intermodal services that help businesses move their goods more efficiently and cost-effectively.

FreightCenter’s extensive network of carriers and shipping partners allows them to offer customized intermodal solutions tailored to each customer’s specific needs. Whether shipping by rail, truck, or a combination of modes, FreightCenter can help businesses find the most efficient and cost-effective way to move their goods.

The Future of Intermodal Transport

As the transportation industry evolves, intermodal transport will play an increasingly important role. FreightCenter is committed to staying at the forefront of this evolution by investing in new technologies and innovations that will help shape the future of intermodal transport.

One of the most exciting developments in the industry is the increased use of data analytics and artificial intelligence. FreightCenter can help businesses optimize their supply chain and reduce shipping costs by analyzing data on shipping routes, demand, and other factors.

In addition, FreightCenter is committed to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of transportation. By promoting intermodal transport, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional shipping methods, FreightCenter is helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

The history of intermodal transport is a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of the transportation industry. As the industry continues to evolve, FreightCenter is leading the way in providing cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable intermodal solutions. Whether you’re shipping by rail, truck, or a combination of modes, FreightCenter can help you find the best way to move your goods. Contact us today to learn more about our intermodal services and how we can help you streamline your supply chain.

Don’t Miss the Train

Looking for an efficient and cost-effective way to move your goods? Look no further than FreightCenter’s intermodal options. Our 360-degree support, budget-friendly prices, and access to trusted carrier partners allow us to offer customized transportation solutions to meet your needs.

Intermodal shipping offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional transportation methods. While there may be better options for time-sensitive or full truckload shipments, our experienced freight experts can help determine if it suits your needs.

Don’t miss the train on this opportunity to streamline your supply chain and save money on shipping costs. We have relationships with some of the top companies in North America, allowing us to offer competitive rates and handle shipments of all sizes. Contact us today to learn more about our intermodal services and get a quote from one of our freight experts at 800.716.7608.

We’re Here to Help!

If you’re looking for a railway freight calculator, need something shipped by train, or aren’t sure, contact one of our truckload or intermodal rail freight experts today at 800.716.7608 or fill out the quote form on the right.

Intermodal FAQ

Q. What does intermodal mean?


Intermodal means using multiple forms of transportation to move goods without handling the freight itself when changing modes. This efficient system combines the use of trucks, trains, and ships, harnessing the strengths of each to optimize logistics, reduce costs, and minimize cargo handling.

Q. What is an example of intermodal transportation?


An example of intermodal transportation is the seamless use of a freight truck to move cargo to a rail yard. There, the goods are transferred to a train for long-distance travel and finally delivered by another truck at the destination. This integration optimizes logistics and efficiency.

Q. Is intermodal trucking worth it?


Yes, intermodal trucking is worth it. It offers efficient transportation by seamlessly connecting different modes of transport, such as sea, rail, and road. This method reduces handling costs, improves transit times, and lowers the risk of delays, leading to a more streamlined supply chain and cost savings.

Q. What is the difference between intermodal and OTR?


Over-the-road (OTR) transport consists of trucks delivering freight directly over long distances, without other forms of transportation. Intermodal trucking, by contrast, uses trucks for the initial and final segments, or ‘first and last mile,’ of shipping, while the main journey is completed by train, offering a combination of transportation methods.

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What is the meaning of intermodal? ›

Intermodal shipping refers to moving freight by two or more modes of transportation. By loading cargo into intermodal containers, shipments can move seamlessly between trucks, trains and cargo ships.

What is an example of intermodal freight? ›

Examples of intermodal transport

Ship and rail: Combination of sea and rail transport, ideal for moving large volumes of cargo over long distances.

What are the 4 intermodal means of transportation? ›

An intermodal carrier using rail or truck is not the only means of transit that intermodal utilizes. Intermodal falls into four general categories: Truck, rail, sea, and air.

What is the difference between intermodal and trucking? ›

Intermodal shipping adds capacity, cuts transportation costs and can reduce your emissions by up to 30% compared to over-the-road shipping. It's an excellent full truckload conversion product that can be a key component of flexible shipping strategies designed to navigate tight truckload markets.

What is drayage vs intermodal? ›

Intermodal utilizes sea, rail and truck to cover distance, instead of relying on just one mode. Drayage refers to the transport of cargo over a short distance by truck, or as part of a longer distance.

What is the difference between intermodal and Conex? ›

Conex box vs intermodal containers: What's the difference? Yes. CONEX boxes were later developed and were then called shipping containers. So, the terms, ISO Container, Intermodal Container, Standard Shipping Container, or CONEX Container — essentially mean the same.

Who is the largest intermodal trucking company? ›

Top Intermodal/Drayage Carriers
RankCompanyRevenue (000)
1J.B. Hunt Intermodal7,021,565
2Hub Group3,301,835
3Evans Delivery1,500,000
22 more rows

What is the most common intermodal transportation? ›

Intermodal is the movement of freight in containers or trailers over two or more modes of transportation such as air, rail, truck, and ship. While it can include any combination of these modes, the most common pairing is rail and truck, which will be the focus of this guide.

Why does intermodal pay more? ›

Intermodal drivers can pick up extra loads as long as they have remaining Hours of Service time. Picking up extra loads results in more load pay and a significantly higher paycheck. So, divers who plan ahead by considering traffic, rail yard congestion and customer requirements can earn well-above-average market wages.

Is intermodal cheaper than truckload? ›

One of the primary benefits of intermodal transportation is the potential for cost savings when shipping cargo 500 miles or more. In fact, shippers who switch from trucking to intermodal for long-distance shipments save an average of 10-40%.

Is intermodal trucking profitable? ›

Earning potential

As of May 2024, intermodal company drivers at Schneider currently earn between $1,160 - $1,820 a week, depending on many variables. They have the potential, based on a number of factors, to earn up to $100,000 per year.

What is an example of an intermodal container? ›

Intermodal containers exist in many types and standardized sizes, but 90 percent of the global container fleet are "dry freight" or "general purpose" containers: durable closed rectangular boxes, made of rust-retardant Corten steel; almost all 8 feet (2.44 m) wide, and of either 20 or 40 feet (6.10 or 12.19 m) standard ...

What is the difference between intermodal and road freight? ›

Intermodal cargo shipping refers to transporting freight by several types of transportation, such as rail and truck. When transporting intermodal cargo, over the road freight is transferred from truck to rail to complete an additional part of the transport.

What is the difference between intermodal and over the road? ›

For starters, over-the-road transportation typically involves a long-distance haul that brings cargo from one warehouse to another. The truck is the only form of transport involved with over-the-road. On the other hand, intermodal trucking deals with the first and last mile of freight that has been shipped by rail.

Why is a shipping container also called an intermodal container? ›

Also called 'ISO Containers' they can be transported by road, rail, or sea and they can be transferred between different modes of transport with ease as they all use the same standard dimensions. (Hence the title 'Intermodal'.)

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