Intermodal Transit Expectations
After going through the intermodal rates, as compared to truckload, the next question always is: what is the transit going to be on this intermodal lane?
Transit time is an important element to keep in mind when considering intermodal.
The perception tends to be transit time will negate all the positives in transitioning a particular truckload lane over to 53’ domestic intermodal lane.
Typically, we share intermodal transits are truck, plus a day, but we also know seeing is believing. With that said, the below chart illustrates the competitive transits of intermodal against truckload.
Year-after-year intermodal transits continue to catch up to truckload transits. In some lanes, expedited intermodal options are available, so don’t be discourage if standard intermodal transit does not work for a particular lane. On the flip side, some lanes also have slower options with increased rate savings.
While transits continue to improve and be truck competitive, there are lanes where transit is two or more days greater than truckload. The key characteristic of these lanes is they involve a hand-off between railroads, meaning the load originates with one Class I railroad, then is completed by another Class I railroad. As these hand-offs improve, all transits will begin to look very much truck-like.
One last point to cover on intermodal transits is intermodal transits are very consistent, with little variability. This trait allows intermodal to be, in many cases, a better option than truckload for shipping into the big box retailers. With intermodal, shippers can pad the transit to have the container deliver at the destination ramp one or two days prior to the RAD date, without charges and then only have a short distance to make the final delivery to insure success.
For more on other misconceptions of intermodal, please read "Do You Really Know Intermodal? A Look At The Misconceptions".
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