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Rail Freight

What is rail freight

Rail freight is transporting cargo through a network of railroads and stations. Various wagons are collected behind a locomotive that goes directly or partly to the end destination. Both domestic and international rail freight transport is organized with the help freight corridors, which are railways dedicated to the transportation of cargo and not passengers. Below you find all the info regarding rail freight vs road freight and sea freight, and detailed info on the advantages of moving freight by rail.

When to choose for rail freight?

There are several situations where rail freight is the best option available.

  1. When shipping inland from a port.
  2. When shipping large quantities in bulk.
  3. When looking for high speed delivery over long distances. (Only air freight is faster, but not suitable for large shipments)
  4. When shipping raw materials such as coal, metal ore and so on.
  5. When looking for an environmentally friendly alternative for road transport (rail freight transport uses 3 times less fuel than road transport.

Pros and Cons of international rail freight transport

When talking about rail freight vs road freight or sea freight, consider the plusses and minuses of choosing for rail freight. Let’s start with the advantages of moving freight by rail.

Pros
  1. Compared to transport by road, transport by rail is more environmentally as fuel consumption is lower.
  2. Possible to transport huge shipments at once.
  3. Low prices for long-distance transport.
  4. Rail freight transport is well-organized with fixed timetables, which give allow accurate rail freight quotes. Also, it is not influenced by traffic conditions such as traffic jams.
  5. Railways transport is the safest way of transporting goods.
Cons
  1. Expensive when used for short distances.
  2. Delays at border stations as there might be a change of train operator.
  3. Due to strict routes and timetables, transport by rail is not flexible.
  4. Door-to-door shipments are not possible. After the shipment arrives at the chosen railhead, it has to be transported to its final destination.
  5. Slower booking process compared to transport by road.

What are the trends in rail freight services

Just like any other industry, the rail freight business is subject to change and trends. Although rail freight forwarding has shown a downward trend for a long time, in recent years the quantity of rail freight services has slightly increased. One of the reasons for that was the increase in demand for coal, which is frequently transported by rail. Below you can find some other reasons for the increase in rail freight.

  1. Rail freight transport has not seen such rapid technological development as other industries. However, in recent years, there have been many innovations with the implementation of the Internet of Things, big data analytics, and cloud computing, all having an effect on rail freight quotes.
  2. Transport Management Systems (TMS) are becoming the norm, with each new version offering more technology, analytics, and more options for optimization of transport.
  3. The near future will see more driverless trains, which means a decrease in human error.
  4. North America has the largest rail network in the world, with more than 200.000 km of railways. However, China, with its “One Belt One Road” initiative is trying to take over that position with many new rail freight corridors.

Variables that determine the rates of rail transport

The price calculation of transport by rail depends on several factors, which are described below. Do you want to know: How much does it cost to ship via rail? Then be sure to keep all these things in mind.

  1. Dimensions of the shipment: These include the size and weight of the goods transported.
  2. Distance: Rail freight forwarding is cheapest when shipping over vast distances.
  3. Pick-up and Delivery: How far are the pick-up and delivery destinations located from the nearest railway station?
  4. Nature of the goods: What types of shipment to transport via rail? Fragile, toxic, flammable, etc.
  5. Insurance: Depending on the nature of the goods transported, there might be additional insurance requirements.
  6. Customs Clearance: When the shipment crosses borders, customs clearance and import fees may apply.