A Different Train of Thought

A.M. Transport - Leaders in Third-Party Logistics

By Joel Carey, CTB

While in recent months much of the news in the transportation industry has been a clamor of who’s crafting which latest future-rattling technology applications, some shippers may find great benefit from a step back for fresh consideration of the original transportation game-changer.

Intermodal rail transportation has evolved in the past several years from a perhaps well-deserved reputation for unreliable service, poor communication, and tracking, and damaged freight, to a level of operational efficiency and customer service that rivals most over-the-road trucking options – often at substantial savings.

Though OTR dry van truckload has been firmly a shippers market for some time, upcoming industry changes such as the electronic logging device requirements that take effect at the end of the year are likely to put pressure on OTR capacity and begin to nudge truckload rates back uphill. Many shippers are already testing the waters of Intermodal as this potential TL capacity crunch approaches – some entirely new to the idea, and others who are taking a second look.

Shippers with relatively durable palletized freight that can be limited to a gross weight of 42,500 pounds and loaded at facilities in reasonable proximity to a primary rail ramp can readily garner savings of 10-30% over TL rates in certain lanes.

Lanes from the Midwest to the West Coast and the Midwest to the Northeast are prime examples where current Intermodal rates are well below OTR. To enhance shipper’s options that might encourage the shift to Intermodal, the major railroads have recently opened new service in lanes from the lower Midwest to the Northeast and Florida which also offer competitive pricing.

With the exception of ensuring thorough bracing and an extra day in transit on most routes, a shipper might otherwise not even notice these days that their freight is riding the rails rather than the road.  The Class I railroads have made excellent use of Internet technology to provide effective communication of shipping orders and appointments, as well as 24-hour position tracking and notifications.  The Intermodal specialists at AM Transport closely monitor all shipments and can provide any level of detailed reporting that our customers might request.

Spot market Intermodal capacity is readily available for next-day pickup or beyond, so why not do your shipping budget a favor and consider a solid and cost-effective alternative?  AM Transport is ready and able to discuss the benefits and options that Intermodal might present to your shipping operations.

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