Road / Rail Transloading

Road / Rail Transloading

Transloading concerns the transshipment of loads from truck to rail and vice-versa. It is done to exploit the respective advantages of trucking and rail, particularly to avoid long-distance trucking. A producer relying on long-distance trucking to service a set of customers is facing many challenges (A). The most significant one is empty backhaul movements, in addition to the requirement of having a large fleet of trucks to ensure a service frequency. Under such circumstances, trucking assets are not effectively used. By relying on transloading (B) the producer ships its freight to a nearby rail terminal where truckloads are consolidated and transshipped into trainloads bound to the same terminal. The consolidated loads are then shipped to a rail terminal in proximity (about 150-200 miles; 250-300 km) of a group of customers. Shipments are then broken down into LTL batches bound to specific customers. Doing so often requires a smaller fleet of trucks as shorter distances enable a truck to do several trips per day and with shorter empty backhauls. The efficiency of the system mainly relies on the efficiency of rail terminals to accommodate its time requirements and the economic benefits of using rail over long distances. 600 miles (1,000 km) is usually the minimal distance for transloading to be cost-effective. An array of value-added activities has also emerged at transloading facilities depending on the type of commodities, such as storage, blending, packaging, consolidated invoicing, combined product shipments, bar-coding, and labeling.