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FITCHBURG, Wis. — Intermodal is the transfer of products involving multiple modes of transportation — truck, railroad or ocean carrier. The North American railroads move more than 16 million containers, or 40 percent, of U.S. freight each year and are growing faster than any other mode of transportation.

In the United States, railroads are categorized as Class I, II, or III. There are seven Class I railroads in the U.S. accounting for 69 percent of the rail mileage. Intermodal increased 33 percent between 1998 and 2008 due to rising fuel costs. Rail cars were then redesigned to allow for refrigerated, enlarged for bigger loads and lowered for double stacking of containers.

Rail transportation takes advantage of the best attributes of both truck and rail shipping by integrating them to improve efficiency. Today, intermodal is being used more frequently in the food and beverage industries.

Intermodal can create the best combination of transportation modes to deliver savings and solutions to shippers. Intermodal is reliable, efficient, safe and environment friendly. When Intermodal began containerization of cargo the supply chain was revolutionized in the logistics industry because it greatly reduced shipping costs. By utilizing the standardize containers freight can be easily transshipped to other modes, such as trucks and ships.

Railways are the safest and most reliable mode compared to the other forms of transportation. Intermodal transportation reduces road congestion and highway fatalities. Railways have reduced the costs of shipping and allowed for fewer lost goods in transit. Freight containers remove direct handling of shipments and potentially reduce damage. Trains give a predictable and reliable schedule because they are run on a schedule

Intermodal can improve efficiency for shippers. Bulk handling represents a huge advantage for rail transportation. Rail is efficient at moving a large amount of heavy freight over long distances like water and pipeline services. Bulk handling on the railroad is much cheaper than by road. Trucks specialize in short and medium haul distances with time-sensitive products. Intermodal’s purpose is to compliment truck shipments not eliminate them, by combining both truck and rail shipping features to improve efficiency.