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What is Intermodal Shipping and How Does it Benefit Me as a Shipper?


Intermodal shipping simply refers to any movement of freight that involves two or more modes of transportation, generally, truck, train, or ocean carrier. Additionally, intermodal shipping is further divided into two categories--domestic and international.

The key difference between the two is the size of the shipping container, as international shipping containers are between 20 and 40 feet, and domestic shipping trailers or “dry vans” are 53 feet. That said, you can ship goods internationally, but they often will be moved using a domestic dry van once in the United States and ready for inland shipment.

Domestic intermodal shipping involves taking goods from their origin to a rail line via truck, with this truck portion being referred to as drayage. The goods are then loaded on rail for the long-haul and then reloaded on a truck to be taken to their destination.


What are the Benefits of Intermodal Shipping?

There are several benefits that come from intermodal shipping, but perhaps most important for businesses is its cost effectiveness and reliability. In addition, intermodal shipping offers plenty of availability as it is fuel efficient and sustainable.

Phil Yeager, COO of Hub Group, praises intermodal shipping as “a much more fuel-efficient, cost-effective way to move goods in longer haul types of transportation where you see significant savings and better fuel economics versus a truckload move. It is a very cost effective, capacity solution at a very highly consistent service level.”

An added benefit of intermodal shipping is that just about any business can take advantage of it, with no need for rail access at either the origin or destination. Plus, just about anything can be shipped by this type of transport, as long as it can fit in a shipping container and be shipped by rail.

Additionally, as intermodal transport continues to integrate more technology, it is becoming even more consistent while offering shippers greater visibility. Ultimately, it is a smart solution for many businesses, particularly in the current environment where it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to be as close to customers as possible.

In a time where delivery times and product availability are more important than ever, it makes sense to partner up with a third-party logistics company like ClearFreight to ensure your cargo gets to its destination as fast as possible. Our team dedicates itself to finding our customers the best options for their freight by staying up to date on all available route options and transit times. Contact our team today to hear how we can help you find the best options for your supply chain and make logistics easier for you.

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