The use of railway cars in the transport system is a cost-effective solution for hauling commodities. Compared to road transport, freight railroads offer a faster means of land transportation. Not only can a single freight train carry a much larger cargo load than a single truck, but it also results in decreased transportation costs due to economies of scale. With fewer manpower and less energy required to transport the same amount of cargo, rail transport proves to be advantageous.
Railcar types play a crucial role in facilitating efficient transportation. Different railcars are designed to accommodate specific types of cargo. For instance, hopper cars are ideal for transporting dry bulk commodities like grains, coal, ore, sugar, and fertilizers. Depending on the cargo, these cars can be covered to protect it from weather conditions, and they can unload through doors on the bottom or sides of the car.
On the other hand, gondolas are utilized in the steel industry to transport high-density bulk items such as steel pipes, coils, and plates. They differ from hopper cars as they do not unload cargo through bottom hatches. Additionally, there are boxcars designed to safeguard goods that require protection against weather conditions. These closed railcars feature one or multiple side doors for loading commodities such as paper and lumber. However, due to the advantages of containerized transport, the use of boxcars has become less common.
Railcars specifically designed for international transport containers offer convenient loading and safe transportation of cargo. In some regions, it’s even possible to stack two containers on top of each other on a single railcar, further enhancing the effectiveness of rail transport. However, there are limitations in certain areas due to factors like vertical clearance, tunnels, and overhead wiring, which restrict such stacking capabilities.
Pricing of rail freight
When it comes to pricing of rail freight, rail transportation offers the advantage of increasing freight capacity on a single rail voyage at relatively low costs. While the initial costs may be substantial, adding extra railway cars to an existing train incurs relatively low expenses, enabling easy expansion of carrying capacity.
Another cost-related advantage of rail transport is the relatively low public costs associated with it. Railroad companies manage track maintenance, which is considered a private cost for these companies. Most of these costs are indirectly covered by passenger services on train tracks, resulting in only a minimal share of costs being borne by freight trains. In contrast, trucks pay fees for road usage, while freight trains can utilize the tracks at relatively low costs.
The concept of rolling highways combines the benefits of rail freight and truck transport. Trucks loaded with freight can drive directly onto specialized wagons, allowing them to travel across the entire train. Once loaded onto the train, truck drivers can rest while the train transports the trucks to the unloading station. Upon reaching the station, the trucks are unloaded from the train and continue their journey by road. This transportation method offers several advantages. Firstly, there is a reduction in fuel costs as trains are more fuel-efficient compared to trucks, especially considering the significant cargo capacity of a single train. Additionally, the use of rolling highways is more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, this method enables a continuous process of cargo transportation, allowing drivers to rest during train travel and resume their journey immediately upon disembarking, ensuring uninterrupted movement of the cargo.