Freight train pulling containers

The 101 on Shipping via Rail

Train logistics is heavily relied upon in the US, accounting for 40% of moved freight in the country. As part of intermodal transportation, rail shipping attracts businesses because of the numerous benefits in which it can enhance the supply chain. Costs are less because of the reduced need for fuel. As well, you don’t have to worry about massive traffic problems and a huge bonus is that trains are more environmentally friendly.

There are 5 categories of freight railroads: class I, regional, local linehaul, switching & terminal carriers and Canadian carriers.

Let’s break each category down to get a better understanding of the US rail freight system.

Class I

These are the largest railroads responsible for around 92% of industrial revenue. The network of these rail lines span across numerous states throughout the US, focusing on long haul and high density traffic lanes.


These are smaller railroads are confined to servicing a specific area- a handful of states per region. Regional railroads help boost local economies by creating numerous job opportunities within these state clusters.

Local linehaul

As the name suggests, these railroads are local, carrying goods short distances that are often under 350 miles. These rail lines typically move loads within a single state.

Switching & terminal (S&T)

These railroads perform pick up and delivery of goods in a very specific area, such as being the load connection between linehaul railroads.

Canadian carriers

Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway are two major rail intermodal lines that have heavy influence in the US and North America in general.

Rail transportation paired with another intermodal mode, such as drayage is the fastest growing transportation method utilized to move goods in the US. Reliable, safe, environmentally responsible and cost effective, it’s definitely smart to consider moving goods by rail.

If you would like to learn more about intermodal drayage in Jacksonville, FL contact us here.

The 101 on Shipping via Rail
Courtney L.
April 29, 2019

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