Every year, approximately 25 million containers are shipped via intermodal methods. With trucker shortages in America reaching upwards of 25,000, as well as concerns over the carbon footprints left by the trucking industry, rail is becoming the quickest growing mode of transportation. In addition to these benefits, pricing structures for intermodal are giving shippers promising metrics, allowing them to move their freight via rail for significantly less than the benchmark road rates.
Rail vs. Road
Although intermodal transportation is making a comeback in the shipping industry, it’s important to know under what circumstances you will find the best rates via this mode. First of all, rail proves most cost-effective when line-hauls exceed 600 miles or more. Second, intermodal transportation greatly reduces the handling of the freight itself which can save a lot of money on claims in the future. And third, the increased security at rail ramps keeps theft concerns low. Let’s talk about what rail pricing looks like on some of the most common long-haul lanes in contrast to trucking rates.
For an FTL shipment moving on some of the most common long-haul lanes, these are some pricing estimates on truck vs. rail:
Chicago area to LA area
Truck Rate per Mile Chicago to LA: $1.49-$1.68 per mile
Truck Rate Chicago to LA: $3,002.35 to $3,385.20
Rail Rate per Mile Chicago to LA: $0.77-$0.97 per mile
Rail Rate Chicago to LA: $1,555.35 to $1,957.60
Intermodal Savings: $1,829.85
Kansas City area to LA area
Truck Rate per Mile Kansas City to LA: $1.72-$1.91 per mile
Truck Rate Kansas City to LA: $2,782.96 to $3,090.38
Rail Rate per Mile Kansas City to LA: $1.19-$1.45 per mile
Rail Rate Kansas City to LA: $1,922.30 to $2,347.03
Intermodal Savings: $1,168.08
Dallas area to LA area
Truck Rate per Mile Dallas to LA: $1.45-$1.63 per mile
Truck Rate Dallas to LA: $2,082.2 to $2,340.68
Rail Rate per Mile Dallas to LA: $0.88-$1.09 per mile
Rail Rate Dallas to LA: $1,264.52 to $1,564.92
Intermodal Savings: $1,076.16
Where Do We Go From Here?
Everyone’s situation is different and no pricing metrics can be guaranteed, but those who switch to utilizing intermodal shipping methods for their freight save a minimum of $550 per shipment on average for line-hauls exceeding 600 miles. Of course, the drawback to shipping via intermodal is that it can take some extra time. With transload considered, your freight will take an extra day to get to its destination, but if planning one day in advance for an extra $600 seems worth it to you, it may be time to switch. If you have been trucking your long-haul shipments in the past, it’s time to call us and talk about what your yearly savings might look like if you start moving your freight via intermodal.