Crosstowns & Empty Repos: What intermodal carriers need to know
Even if you’re new to the intermodal world, you most likely know what goes into a typical pickup and delivery trip. The carrier starts by getting a container from the rail yard and then heads to shipper/consignee to get the container loaded or unloaded. The journey ends with the carrier taking the container back to the rail yard. Since this type of load always ends up at a warehouse, these trips will take you anywhere within a 250-mile radius of your local area.
But what about crosstowns and empty repositions? What are they, and what makes them different from other intermodal loads? If you’ve seen these load types on the DrayNow app and had no idea what to expect, we’re here to explain what these trips entail so that carriers can see whether these loads a good fit for their business or not.
Empty repositions are simply moving empty containers from one place to another. In intermodal, this usually means the carrier will be bringing it from one rail to another. Why does this need to happen? Because the supply & demand for containers change every day, and an imbalance of containers forms if one rail has a surplus and another has a deficit. That’s where drayage carriers come in and pick up one empty and move it to another location.
Crosstowns are very similar to empty repositions, except this time the carrier is bringing a loaded container from one rail to another. What also makes crosstowns different is the reason for the move. Where empty repos are completed to get the empty to a new location to later get loaded, crosstown containers are already loaded and being taken to another rail for its next leg of the trip. Let’s say that a loaded container is traveling from California to New York, and needs to connect to another rail in Chicago. This is what makes every crosstown move necessary.
What can carriers expect to see when taking a crosstown or empty reposition? A quick trip, that’s for sure! Almost all of these trips are less than 50 miles, with most being even shorter. And there’s little to no dwell time since the container is being loaded or unloaded. The most time-consuming part of the move is actually finding the right container.
So the next time you have an opening in your schedule and see a crosstown or empty repo pop up on the DrayNow app, don’t hesitate to pick one up and try it out!
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