Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2005.
In the United States, the domestic 53-foot container is widely used. It represents the largest size a standard truck is authorized to carry on roadways, namely the Interstate. Therefore, it is the largest road transportation unit in most of North America (road trains of two trailers can be used in some states and Canadian provinces). The containers in the above photo belong to J.B. Hunt, one of the largest road carriers in the United States, and are arriving at the Corwith railyard in Chicago. It represents an eloquent example of intermodal integration as both modes focus on the haulage distances that are the most suitable; long hauls for rail and short “last mile” hauls for trucks.
The rail cars (well cars) in which these domestic containers are been carried on have been designed to handle a wide variety of container sizes, including two 20-footers, 40-footers, 48-footers, and 53-footers (as depicted above). The well cars are owned by TTX, which is a corporation specializing in leasing intermodal rail equipment to the major rail carriers in North America.