In recent years, transportation economics have shifted in favor of railroads. Because railroads are over three times as fuel-efficient as trucks, for example, higher fuel prices have less of an impact.
This increase in rail’s economic advantage has been coupled with steady improvements in the reliability and speed of rail service. Accordingly, many shippers find that rail can cut their supply chain costs significantly. The advantages are greatest for:
- High volume traffic such as grain
- Dense freight such as canned goods, minerals, paper and perishables
- Bulky freight such as plastic pellets
- Movements which would stress the available supply of truck trailers and/or drivers
- As motor carriers become more aggressive about penalizing shippers and receivers who delay their drivers and equipment, many customers value the convenience of loading or unloading freight cars on their own schedule, instead of the truck driver’s. Also, when truck dock space and parking are limited, rail allows them to handle more business.
Rail is verifiably the most environmentally benign method of shipping large volumes of freight and bulky commodities.