Rail and road shipping are two of the most common forms of transport for freight. They both offer more affordability, convenience, and reliability compared to alternative forms of transport.
Rail and road both have advantages and disadvantages over each other too, however. So determining which is best between the two comes down to a number of factors.
As previously mentioned, both rail and road transport are considerably cheaper than other modes of transport. Between the two, however, rail freight is slightly cheaper.
This is mainly due to the fact that trains have greater capacity compared to trucks. They can transport more cargo in less time, hence reducing costs associated with fuel and labour. Rail transport is also less likely to be delayed by traffic, road repairs, and accidents.
Trains usually move between freight stations and depots on a carefully planned schedule. Conversely, trucks are usually dispatched according to delivery requests and therefore offer more flexibility.
In addition, trucks are not restricted by railways and can therefore transport freight to and from remote locations.
As mentioned before, trains are rarely affected by traffic, weather, repairs, and other forms of congestion. They are therefore considerably more reliable than trucks as they are less likely to be delayed.
Freight trains can travel for thousands of kilometres without stopping. Train operators are also able to operate trains for long periods of time compared to truck drivers who can only drive 8-12 hours a day, depending on where they work.
Because of this, trains have much greater range and can cover longer distances, in less time.
When it comes to emissions, rail transport is much more environmentally friendly than trucks. Not only are rail networks electrified, but trains can also transport much more in one trip than a truck can. Because of this, they release significantly less emissions than freight trucks.
Determining whether to transport your freight via rail or road ultimately comes down to the nature and volume of your goods, where you’re shipping to and from, and your budget.