Intermodal shipping is a great and often underutilized method of transporting freight.

Moving freight by rail can often be cost efficient and has a lower carbon footprint than other transportation methods. Intermodal uses the U.S. Class 1 rail road system to transport freight all over North America.

When to ship using intermodal rail?
  • Your shipment travels over 500 miles
  • Your shipment weighs under 43,500 pounds
  • Your shipment can be loaded into a container/trailer up to 53 feet in length
  • Your shipment has a flexible transit schedule

Intermodal, with regards to shipments in North America, refers to using a combination of rail roads and trucks to deliver freight. Typically, a drayage carrier will transport your freight to a terminal and your freight is then mounted on a train. The train then unloads at another terminal closer to the final destination. Finally, a second truck is used to deliver the freight from the train and to the consignee.

For shipments that aren’t time-sensitive, intermodal rail is a great fit for many shippers. You can ship a variety of commodities on rail, including food and beverage, electronics, construction equipment, and even chemicals. Air-ride train cars decrease the chance of damage, and trains are easily tracked electronically for frequent shipment updates. Additionally, when adverse weather impacts the transportation industry, including truckload capacity and rates, intermodal rail is a great alternative for truckload shipments.

Read more about intermodal in our blog.

Blocking and bracing are packaging techniques that are important to keep your freight from moving inside the container. These practices also help prevent movement when freight is being loaded on and off the train and while going over the road via truck. The goal of proper packaging is to reduce the amount of movement within the container as much as possible. Echo’s experts can refer clients to Load and Ride Solutions (LARS) teams who can demonstrate how to properly load containers at their docks.

Intermodal Advantages:
  • Lower transportation costs over longer distances
  • Decreased chance of freight damage with air-ride cars
  • Exclusive use of equipment means no mixed freight
  • Reduced highway congestion and road degradation
  • LARS (Load and Ride Solutions) teams go to shippers’ docks and show them how to properly load containers