In 2013, we published a post titled 10 Truck Facts, and it tops the blog as one of the most read articles to date. While the truck will always remain the pillar of our industry, intermodal transportation is a fast growing sector, increasing at a rate that is unparalleled by any other mode of transportation. Much of this growth can be attributed to intermodal’s ability to provide different transportation modes to deliver service, improved productivity, cost savings and security peace of mind to shippers and customers. So, here are 10 facts they pay tribute to Intermodal:

  1. Intermodal transportation goes back to the 18th century and predates the railways. Some of the earliest containers were those used for shipping coal on the Bridgewater Canal in England in the 1780s. (1)
  2. 90% of modern day intermodal containers are dry freight or general purpose containers, and refrigerated containers make up only 6% of the world’s shipping boxes.
  3. Standard containers are made of corrugated steel with a plywood floor. The type of steel used allows for increased resistance to corrosion.
  4. The term TEU, is an acronym that means Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit. This is the standard unit of measure that is used in the industry to indicate the capacity of a container.
  5. In 2012, an estimated total of 20.5 million containers totaling 31.5 million TEUs made up the worldwide container fleet. (2)
  6. While most over the road truck trailers are typically 48 or 53ft, intermodal containers come in 20, 40, 45, 48, or 53ft lengths.
  7. The top 5 US ports, measured by TEUs, are Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York – New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia. (3)
  8. In North America, there are 8 railways that operate the network: Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, CSX, and Ferrocarril Mexicano.
  9. An intermodal train is, on average, 2x more fuel efficient than a truck.
  10. An intermodal freight train emits 2/3rds less greenhouse gas emissions for every ton mile than a typical truck shipment. (4)

UWT now offers intermodal service! Our intermodal (or rail plus truck) program will give you access to all aspects of perishables logistics: from inventory control, forward distribution, and more. Learn more on our website, and contact us today!


(1) Accessed on 23 July 2015.
(2) World Container Fleet Overview. CSI Container Services International. January 2014. Accessed on 23 July 2015
(3) Accessed on 23 July 2015.
(4) Accessed on 23 July 2015.

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