All sectors
Our Solutions

10 Surprising Advantages of Rail Transport Over Road Transport

by Samantha Greene / Feb 24, 2023 / 5m

When you have a mission of shipping your products, the choice of transportation method can be tricky. And history tells us that the advantages of railroad transportation were serving as a backbone of the economy and supply chains too long to be ignored. If you are considering railroad freight to get products to their place of delivery, this material might help you. 


How does railroad cargo freight work?


Railroad shipping is a type of inland transportation. The term “inland” implies that all transport goes over land, thus, excluding the use of air and maritime vehicles. In our case, the load is moved on freight trains via the railroad network. This way, it can be transported to another city or even another country. 


Is it better to choose the railroad?


There are two main modes of inland shipping: on-the-road (OTR) shipping, which uses trucks and vans, and railroad. Both have their benefits and flaws. In short, here is a list of cases when you might want to look to rail freight:


  •         You have a large load of products;
  •         Your shipment is not time-sensitive;
  •        You need to cover large distances;
  •         Your cargo is of high value.


Now, let us see why rail train freight can be preferable to OTR vehicles. We can highlight ten main advantages of rail over road transport:


  •         Cost efficiency.
  •         Environmental protection.
  •         Capacity.
  •         Reliability.
  •         Shipping time.
  •         Availability.
  •         Safety.
  •         Organisation.
  •         Independence.
  •         Speed/Distance ratio.


Railroad freight trains can be cheaper


If you switch your delivery from OTR mode to the railroad, you might be able to save 10% to 40% of the freight budget. Trucks and vans have higher price variations including seasonal dependencies, their cost depends on the price of fuel and other consumables, and can be affected by distance and other factors - thus, leading to generally higher rates than railroads.


Managing the ecological footprint


Environmental protection is one of the greatest ethical advantages of rail transport over road transport. The Association of American Railroads states that choosing railroad freight over trucks and vans can reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses by three-quarters. 


You can ship high volumes of cargo


Rail freight trains are much more capacious than OTR vehicles in regard to product volumes. Also, the capacity of the train is flexible as there could be added wagons.


Trains are reliable


Train crashes and other accidents are far less common than accidents on the roads. This also goes for various malfunctions and breakdowns. When loading your cargo on the rail freight, you can be sure it will reach its endpoint.


Rail shipping is efficient


The statistics say that rail and OTR modes are pretty much comparable in terms of transit times for large distances. This means rail freight is at least not inferior to a truckload when speaking about great mileage.

Rail freight is accessible


It is not a secret that finding the right OTR transport for your cargo can be tight. The company’s schedule is overloaded, there is a fuel shortage or deficit of drivers, or maybe you need several vehicles or drivers because of the distance or cargo volume. All these factors can add up and skyrocket the price of your freight, if you can arrange it at all.


Rail trains are safer than cars


The security on the railroad is also much more reliable. Unlike trucks, train stoppages are strictly scheduled and occur at stations under constant monitoring. This, in combination with limited access to your cargo, reduces the risk of the load being stolen or damaged.

Not as many force majors on the railroads

 The railroad is a sustainable perfected system with established routes, schedules, etc. It is less affected by the human factor, and you are less likely to suffer a hold-up or a miscalculated delivery time.


Railroad is less affected by external factors


Rails are mostly separated from public transport routes and, therefore, will not suffer from traffic jams. The weather conditions, such as rain or fog, also do not have an impact on the estimated time of arrival. By the way, strikes are more often conducted on civil transport roads than the railroad—for obvious reasons,—so your shipping will not be delayed because of those as well.


Trains are the fastest inland transport for long distances


A high-speed freight train can reach 120 mph speed which is inconceivable and, frankly, dangerous for a truck. It makes trains a perfect choice when you need to ship your cargo over long distances.