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It seems like everywhere you’re driving, there’s a semi-truck that’s also sharing the road. Trucking is an easy and effective way to deliver freight from one destination to another. However, rising fuel costs and traffic congestion can make trucking as a single mode of transportation expensive and wasteful.

That’s where intermodal can come in and change things. Incorporating rail as another mode of freight transportation can serve to benefit our roads. With an average freight train hitting 6,500 feet in length (with 95% of trains at or less than 10,000), about 123 53’ intermodal containers can fit on one ride. That’s 123 shipments off the road for hundreds to even thousands of miles!

Besides decreasing traffic on the roads, intermodal is also decreasing the carbon footprint of freight. What exactly is a carbon footprint? It refers to an entity’s greenhouse gas emissions, mostly concerning carbon dioxide. They are a major factor in air pollution, and as environmental factors in today’s world are scrutinized, it’s worth noting the carbon footprint of your business initiatives and what you can do to lessen it.

With the average over the road truck driver running 100,000 miles a year, imagine how much less the carbon emissions of your shipments could be through adding an extra, fuel-efficient mode of transportation. While tractors of course will still play a part in this method, it’s still cutting down on the total truck mileage. This opens up the opportunity to access thousands of local carriers who are ready to haul in their respective areas.

Not only can a train carry the same amount of freight in one trip as multiple trucks, but their fuel efficiency is superior as well. One ton of freight can move 470 miles on just one gallon of fuel. Using the ton-miles per gallon formula [(tons x miles) / gallon], a regular intermodal load in a 53’ container would require 42 gallons of fuel to go 1000 miles by train. On the other hand, for a truck to go 1000 miles with the same cargo, it would need 141 gallons of fuel. That’s a lot less fuel to factor into your operating costs!

The next time you’re stuck in traffic surrounded by tractor trailers with out-of-state license plates and all of their emissions, think about how this scene could be different if they all went intermodal. Trucking will always be around, so why not seek alternative ways of transport that benefit truckers by letting them stay local, while also cutting mileage across the board.

Long story short: Keeping trucks local and moving shipments to intermodal is better for business and our environmental surroundings as a whole.

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