Logistics Faceoff: Which Delivery Method is Better – Rail or Truck?

If you are planning on shipping your freight via ground shipping, you are probably choosing between rail or truckload shipping. There is no “wrong choice” per say, but there may be a more ideal choice for you depending on your company’s goals. Conserving energy, time and resources is no doubt important for your business and supply chain, so it’s important to weigh your delivery method options. Consider the pros and cons of both rail and truck shipping methods.

railRail
Pros: 

  • Very secure
  • Fuel efficient
  • Shipment size
    • Intermodal sizes and weight (including Tare)–
      • 20’ –    52,900 lbs max
      • 40’ –  67,200 lbs max
      • 45’ –   67,200 lbs. max
      • 40’ –    67,200 lbs max
      • 53’ –    67,200 lbs max

Cons: 

  • Transit time is longer
    • Average shipment time from California to New York is 8-10 days

Trains are superior in the realm of energy efficiency for shipments over land. A train’s steel wheels produce very little kinetic friction. On the other hand, a truck’s thick tires create heavy static friction. This means that a truck’s engine consumes more fuel. Trains also move at a slower pace, which greatly improves fuel consumption. The aerodynamic drag caused by moving a heavy freight at fast speeds is diminished via rail. Therefore, if your concerns for supply chain management heavily rely on the energy efficiency of your vehicles, and if your shipment is a medium to long distance route, rail shipments may be more ideal.
truckingTrucking
Pros: 

  • Quick transit time
    • Approximately 4-5 Days shipping time from California to New York.
  • Quicker availability

Cons: 

  • Higher fuel charges
  • Limited size,
    • 53’ FTL Van
      • 26 standard 48×40 pallets
      • max 45,000lbs
    • 48’ FTL Van
      • 24 standard 48×40
      • Max 45,000lbs

On the other hand, time is money. If your company is fast-paced, a train’s lag in time can make all the difference. Because trains move slower than trucks, those who rely on quicker delivery times may choose the faster truck. Trucks are also more flexible, because they are not reliant on railways. They can operate on any roadway throughout the continent.

In short, the answer to the question posed in the title of this article is: it depends.

Both shipment options have pros and cons. STC Logistics’ Intermodal Service combines Ocean, Rail and Truck to offer door-to-door transport in North America. If you choose Rail shipping, keep in mind that you will most likely implement Intermodal Shipping in order to transport your items to and from the rail yard. Weight plays a major factor in transporting goods. By utilizing more than one mode of transportation, you can experience the benefits of both modes of logistics. The team at STC Logistics can handle the drayage, rail negotiation and transport of your intermodal shipment.
For more information on Select Transportation Logistics’ Intermodal Service or to request a quote, contact us today at ratequote@shipstc.com

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