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When it comes to transporting cargo long distances domestically, there are two main types of freight transport: intermodal and over-the-road trucking.

Intermodal uses two methods of transportation, rail and truck, while over-the-road exclusively relies on a truck to move freight.

Intermodal freight transportation is much more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly compared to long-haul trucking. There is also a significant cost benefit to moving freight on the rail for a majority of the trip.

Drayage is a part of intermodal freight transport. Intermodal drayage refers to a truck moving an intermodal container loaded with freight to and from the rail, typically referred to as the first and last mile of an intermodal move. Drayage keeps trucking local, as the pickup and delivery locations for the intermodal containers are typically close to the rail. Drayage is essential to the entire intermodal supply chain, as there is no other way to get intermodal freight to its next destination besides using a truck.

How can shippers utilize intermodal drayage service?

In order to properly obtain intermodal drayage services and get started on this journey, a shipper must first connect with a rail service provider who can get their freight on the rail. These are called intermodal marketing companies (IMCs), and their primary function is to acquire rail space and secure intermodal drayage capacity.

If these IMCs want to easily secure drayage capacity for a shipper’s intermodal freight, they can sign up and use a service like DrayNow, which provides best-in-class drayage service in domestic intermodal markets across the country. Due to our expansive reach, we’re able to supply capacity for drayage trucking on both sides of the intermodal move. Thousands of owner operators are signed up and qualified to pick up local freight through our app.

Understanding and leveraging intermodal drayage

This is how a typical intermodal move goes: Let’s say that a shipper has freight that needs to be picked up in the Atlanta area and delivered to the Los Angeles area. IMCs can get this freight on a train headed to Los Angeles, while DrayNow provides the drayage service that brings the loaded container to the rail in Atlanta and also delivers the cargo to the warehouse in Los Angeles once the train has arrived and the container has grounded.

On top of providing drayage service, DrayNow has added technology benefits for the IMC that help ensure success for the first and last mile of a shipper’s intermodal move. Our platform has real-time tracking that offers geo-location viewing and ETAs to guarantee on-time deliveries. Documents such as a proof of delivery (POD) or bill of lading (BOL) are uploaded and stored right on the platform to confirm that freight has been successfully delivered. We also have a dedicated team available 24/7 to assist on all drayage moves running through the platform.

The strategic use of intermodal transportation can lead to cost savings, increased efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Shippers can utilize intermodal transportation for their freight by using the skills provided by IMCs to handle the rail logistics and services like DrayNow to cover the first and last mile drayage moves.


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