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Freight Shipping Service: Trucks vs. Rail

21 Jan 2014

As you shop for a freight shipping service, you may have considered shipping your freight by rail. Trains have, historically, moved most of the goods across the country and they are still responsible for shipping almost all of our large quantity, heavy goods such as grain and ore. How do trains and trucks stack up when it comes to freight service?

Rail service in the United States has famously been reported to move a ton of goods almost 500 miles on just one gallon of fuel. That sure sounds pretty good. Plus, a train only has one conductor, right? We’d only be paying one person to move all those hundreds of containers full of goods and materials. So why doesn’t everyone ship everything via rail?

First, and foremost, they can’t. This is simply because trains don’t go everywhere. There are only so many railroad lines and even fewer stations located across the country. Can you picture where the closest railroad depot is in regards to your home or business? Any freight to be shipped by rail must be loaded up and taken by truck to the railroad depot, loaded onto the train, and then on the other end unloaded back onto a truck to be delivered to the recipient. Shipping by truck in the first place eliminates the train middleman. A truck can provide door to door service, loading and unloading your goods just once, which results in less loss and breakage.

Second, trains are slow. They may be fuel efficient, but they are so big that they are outrageously heavy, and they can take weeks to get across the country. For some shipments that doesn’t matter, but many businesses and individuals rely on their freight being delivered on a faster timeframe.

Third, trains are expensive. The cost of shipping by rail becomes efficient when you are talking about 50,000 tons of coal. It doesn’t make as much sense when you’re talking about less than a truckload of household goods. Smaller units and lighter shipments can be shipped at lower cost via truck.

When you are getting a freight shipping quote, it’s important to explore all of your options. Rail might be a good option for you if you live or work close to a railroad and are shipping very large quantities of heavy items that do not need to be at their destination very quickly. For everyone else, truck shipping is the way to go. Trucks go everywhere in America and they do it fast. We can get your items where they need to be, when you need them to be there, at a price you can afford.