What is the Difference Between Intermodal and Drayage?

Intermodal transport is the practice of using more than one mode of transport to move goods. Freight transport refers to the transportation of cargo over a short distance by truck or as part of a longer distance. Transportation is a term that emerged in the shipping industry before there were many trucks on the roads. The original transport cart was a sideless cart drawn by horses, and was used to move large loads over short distances.

Today, we use the four main modes of transportation, ships, trucks, airplanes and railroad cars, interchangeably to define intermodal service. Transportation still refers to the movement of goods over short distances, but it can also include the entire shipping process using the different modes of transport. Freight transporters, also called transporters, are specialized carriers that operate inside and outside railway facilities (and, depending on the location, also in seaports). Transportation drivers are usually local and generally carry out several loads per day within their respective metropolitan regions.

Conveyors only run on energy, which means that they only supply energy to the truck (that is, the tractor or power unit) and will pick up and deliver the equipment (that is, the container (and chassis) owned by the railway, an asset-based intermodal supplier, or an international maritime organization (i.e.,. The rates are offered as a fixed rate, plus a fuel surcharge to account for diesel fluctuations. Carriers typically provide a point-to-point fare matrix, which includes pickup and delivery rates from all intermodal ramps in the metropolitan region to dozens of towns and cities in the region. Some carriers can carry up to 300 miles, but trips of 50 to 100 miles are the most common.

Transportation rates are much less volatile than spot market rates for trucks. Carriers usually update their fare matrix only once a year (sometimes less), compared to one-off rates for trucks, which fluctuate daily to take into account current supply and demand. For consistent, higher-volume opportunities, carriers negotiate special rates for committed freight. If you're shipping domestic intermodal cargo in a 53-foot container, you'll rarely (if ever) deal with the underlying freight carriers.

You will receive a door-to-door service, in which your intermodal provider will take care of all your transportation, including pricing, choosing the right carrier, negotiating rates and operations. If you're shipping international cargo, especially if it arrives at a port, you may need to arrange your own container transportation. Intermodal suppliers obtain price matrices from railroads. Each railroad will provide fares from its intermodal ramps to other intermodal ramps, both within its network and for other rail networks outside its service area.

Rail transport fares consist of a fixed fare plus a fuel surcharge. Although there is a dense intermodal coverage network in North America, not all intermodal ramps are connected to each other (that is,. Offer (prices and service), even within the same railway network. Intermodal rail networks involve enormous amounts of equipment on fixed tracks.

Railroads must prioritize balancing the network: if their containers and trains aren't where they need to be when they need to be there, the service will be affected. To maintain balance, railroads use a few different pricing structures to stimulate traffic flow in several lanes and corridors. Sometimes referred to as FAK rates (freight of all types), they are the most common. Since the intermodal is a load conversion product for trucks, railroads are aware of what is happening in the truck market and take these trends into account in their timely intermodal rates.

While they fluctuate in response to market demands, compared to the prices of heavy trucks, these rates are more stable and don't change much (if any) from week to week. The intermodal high season normally starts in September and lasts until December. As capacity decreases, spot rates in these regions will increase by several hundred dollars per lane. Peak season aside, on-time intermodal fares are relatively stable and, unless a railroad makes a significant change to the network, adjustments tend to be gradual.

These are specific rates for each shipper that railroads create during annual offers (also known as RFP). They are commonly referred to as SPQ (special price quotes). Intermodal contract rates remain stable and will not change throughout the year. The stability of annual intermodal prices allows shippers to create reliable transportation budgets.

You don't necessarily need a lot of volume to get a secure rate; sometimes just a few charges per month on a line are enough. If you have the opportunity, ask your intermodal service provider about project rates; it is not necessary to have an annual offer to guarantee a committed price from the railway.

Lynette Cariño
Lynette Cariño

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