Rail Transportation


When companies are looking to ship large amounts of freight, usually more than 120,000 pounds, to the same place simultaneously, rail shipping can sometimes provide the best option.  

Railcar shipping is often cheaper and more eco-friendly than shipping via truck.

Railcar types  

The rail industry can accommodate countless products thanks to their many rail car options  

Box car  

Boxcars can carry a variety of freight, anything from paper, lumber, packaged goods, beverages, and other palletized freight. There are a few size variations with boxcars, 50 ft plain, 60 ft plain, and insulated. The insulated length can range from 57 to 71 ft. 

Center Beam  

Center Beam cars are best for bundled goods such as lumber, wallboard, fence posts, and other building materials. A standard Center Beam rail car is 73 ft long with a carrying capacity between 194,000 and 225,900 pounds. 

Coil Cars  

Coil cars are designed for steel and other similar products. Load limits for these cars are around 226,000 pounds.  

Flat Cars  

Flat cars are great for pipe, rail, steel plate, machinery, steel beams, tractors, military vehicles, lumber, poles, logs, and other oversized and oddly shaped freight. These cars are traditionally 60 – 90 ft long with a load limit between 142,000 and 210,000 pounds.  


Used primarily for heavy bulk materials like scrap metal, logs, lumber, steel, sand, and iron ore, these cars range from 52 – 65 ft long and have a load limit between 158,000 to 267,000 pounds.  

Covered/Closed Hoppers  

These covered cars are fantastic for cement, rooking granules, sand, corn, wheat, barley, fertilizer, sugar, and rice. Different kinds of covered/ closed hoppers are designed for your specific needs. For example, if you are shipping cement, roofing granules, or sand, cars are available with a load limit of up to 233,000 pounds. There are also food-grade hoppers for food freight.  

Open Top Hoppers  

These open hoppers are best for shipping coal, petroleum coke, sand, rock, and other products that can be exposed to the elements.  

Tank Cars  

Fairly straightforward, tank cars move chemicals, molasses, fuel, and other liquid or gas products. These cars, however, are privately owned and can be hard to get. They can hold between 6,500 and 31,000 gallons of material.  

Advantages Of Rail Freight Logistics  

Along with its cost savings potential, rail is optimal for pre-planned long-hauls, and moving from over the road to rail could benefit your supply chain in several ways. For example, using rail can elevate concerns with capacity, gas emissions, and driver shortages.  

Additionally, according to the Association of American Railroads, more investments in rail infrastructure are increasing rail transportation’s safety and efficiency, resulting in a higher safety level thanks to less human involvement and the absence of highway congestion.  

New technology innovations in rail are also a great advantage. Automation, modern railway systems, big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence are new tools impacting rail transportation.