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Christmas Tree Shipping via Intermodal Transportation

October 23, 2014 Rick LaGore

It is hard to image Christmas is almost here, but the reality is the cool temperatures in October will soon give way to the Christmas season.  According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there were 27.4 million real Christmas trees purchased in the US in both 2016 & 2017.  

Christmas tree shippers are now making plans to ship their Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, Virginia Pine and White Pine trees to the retailers.  The annual surge can make it extremely difficult to obtain cost competitive 53' truckload capacity.    

This blog is written specifically to why Christmas Tree shippers should consider converting their truckload needs to 53' domestic intermodal transportation service

Truckload to intermodal rail conversion has been on the rise for the past several years.  Rising fuel costs, driver shortages, increased regulations have taken its toll on truckload capacity and cost.  At the same time, railroads have invested tens of billions in infrastructure, technology and people that have made many of the misconceptions about intermodal fade away in shippers' minds.  The result is domestic 53' intermodal is the fastest domestic transportation market and continues to have multiple record growth years.  The below chart from the Intermodal Association of North America indicates there has been consistent year-over-year growth since 2010.  As it looks, 2014 will increase roughly 8.0% over 2013. 

Intermodal transportation services has evolved to a point where railroads specialize in niches like Christmas Tree intermodal service to meet the peak demands and unique needs of the market.  These   programs are in place with the major railroads through their door-to-door divisions that utilized IMC service partners.  The goal of the service is to give Christmas Tree growers and buyers a one stop shop that simplifies their shipping needs; takes away the unknowns that may come from using intermodal for the first time; and meet the special needs of the real Christmas Tree industry.

With one phone call Christmas Tree shippers have access to the following:

  • All inclusive flat fee.
  • Origin pick-up.
  • Railroad line haul.
  • Destination delivery.
  • Two hours of free time at origin and another two hours of free time at destination for loading and unloading the trailer.
  • Cleaning and special handling required by the Christmas Tree business.
  • Real-time tracking and tracing.
  • Customized reporting. 

The challenges the Christmas Tree business has with schedule reliability, transits, equipment availability and flexibility with loading can be addressed in the intermodal Christmas Tree programs by:

  • Using single drops or setting up drop pools.
  • Pooling and/or assembling multiple stop intermodal loads.
  • Augmenting truck lanes for the additional peak capacity required.

Capacity can be a big concern in peak season and by definition, intermodal has more options to throw a great deal of capacity on a lane than truck options. 

Christmas Tree shippers need to be aware that intermodal service carries a $500 liability coverage per load.  

Additional blogs about intermodal transportation solutions can be found on our blog. We recommend reading the following for more information on intermodal transportation:

If you're ready to take the next step, at InTek Freight & Logistics, we can help. Just tell us what you need and we'll discuss how our expertise can help with the unique shipping challenges your business faces. Rather do a bit more research first? View our Freight Guides for comprehensive articles and eBooks on all things freight and logistics.

The in's & out's of Intermodal eBook

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