Intermodal Rides Into The Future

While intermodal providers cite a number of reasons, three interrelated themes emerge: cost reduction, improvements in efficiency and environmental impact.


Don’t assume that intermodal is out of reach for smaller enterprises. While large-volume customers have relied upon Union Pacific’s intermodal services for 10 or 20 years, the company also aids shippers with less complex supply chains to select services to help them efficiently deliver their products. This can include coordinating ramp-to-ramp or door-to-door service for customers without direct rail access.

Shippers considering intermodal rail should evaluate their lead times, says Poindexter. “Consider changing the lead time on purchase orders to allow for early product pickup to make the train’s cut off time,” he says.

A closer look at shipping cycles is also part of the process of deciding if your shipments would benefit from intermodal. “First, identify your traffic lanes with consistent volume,” says Mnichowski. “Next, determine if your freight can move in five-day service schedules, then consult with an intermodal expert to determine what goods ship well with intermodal.” d

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