Intermodal Shipping: A Solution for Sustainability

According to this study, the number of companies with an environmental stability program in place increased by 54% in 2010, and an even greater 69% reported that they had deliberately increased their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. This number has undoubtedly risen year after year, and now, in 2014, the focus on environmental sustainability is greater than ever.

Sustainability programs aren't just good for the environment – it's proven that they have a positive impact on the public opinion and culture of your company, too.

When your company's business depends on shipping freight, it's easy to feel like you have no choice but to negatively impact the environment, due to the inevitable fuel consumption and carbon emissions of the trucking industry. However, many companies either are not aware of, or do not consider, a valuable alternative to truckload shipping that cuts down on these impacts significantly: intermodal shipping (over the rail).

With intermodal shipping (which literally means “multiple modes”), a truck brings the container from your pick-up location to the nearest rail facility, where it is loaded on a train and then delivered to the rail facility nearest your delivery location. The container is then loaded onto another truck, which delivers the freight to its final destination. When you book an intermodal shipment with us, it's door-to-door service, so you don't have to worry about the drayage (the truck bringing your shipment to and from the rails) – we take care of it all.

The difference in fuel consumption and carbon emissions when you ship intermodal is staggering, which makes it a very popular choice for companies with a sustainability initiative. The rail industry is fully aware of this and has made continued strides to further increase fuel efficiency, resulting in a 94% fuel efficiency increase since 1980. An intermodal train can move one ton of freight roughly 830 miles on a single gallon – yes, just one gallon – of diesel fuel. Not to overwhelm you with more numbers, but another impressive fact: an intermodal train only emits 5.4 pounds of carbon emissions per every 100-ton miles, whereas a truck emits 19.8 pounds.

The hard numbers make it very clear that considering intermodal shipping is a wise choice – and I haven't even mentioned the fact that it's usually cheaper than truckload shipping!

There are a few key factors you should keep in mind that will determine whether you are a good candidate for intermodal shipping:

  • Looking to save money on freight and shipping costs
  • Have a sustainability program in place or otherwise looking to reduce carbon footprint
  • Frequently ship long-distance (800 miles or more)
  • Have flexibility to adjust to slightly longer transit times

If these apply to you, get in touch with us to explore switching some or all of your truckload freight to intermodal. The environment, and your shipping budget, will thank you!