SmartWay*
       MENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Intermodal Shipping
A Glance at Clean Freight Strategies
      ENERGY &
   FUEL SAVINGS

     Gallons Saved:
      1,292 gallons

      CO2 Savings:
      13 metric tons

      Fuel Economy
        Increase:
           9%

          MPG
    (original 6 mpg):
        7.12 mpg

    Reduction in Fuel
      Consumption:
           9%

   Fuel Cost Savings:
         $4,912
Intermodal freight transport combines the best attributes of both truck and rail
shipping. For long distances, intermodal freight moves can cut fuel use and green-
house gas emissions, compared to truck-only moves.


What is the challenge?
Moving freight long distances by rail rather than by truck can save fuel and reduce greenhouse
gas emissions. This is because a freight train with 20 to 50 railroad cars can carry much more
cargo per gallon of diesel fuel than can a combination truck. However, trucks can usually offer
more service and scheduling options than trains. Because  of these distinctions, trucks move over
four times as much freight as  rail.
Increased business competition and international trade is fueling the growth of intermodal freight
transport. The total number of trailers and containers shipped by intermodal rail grew by nearly
33 percent between 1998 and 2008.


What is the solution?
Railroad freight cars carry cargo over long distance, high volume corridors. Trucks or barges
move the loads between the rail terminals and the cargo's ultimate origin or destination.


Types of Intermodal Shipping
      Trailer on flat car, commonly called TOFC, or "piggyback." In a TOFC move, rein-
       forced truck trailers  mount on railroad flat cars  or spine cars (frame-like cars with a
       middle bar or spine) for the rail leg of the trip, and hook to combination trucks for
       the rest of the trip.
      Container on flat car or COFC uses metal shipping containers on a railroad flat
       car or spine car for  the rail part of the trip. Containers are typically loaded onto a
       container chassis (a frame-like truck trailer) for  the trucked leg of the trip.
      Double stacking is the most efficient way to move containers long distances over land.
       Two stacked containers on a railroad well car (a rail car with a "well" into which the
       bottom container partly sits) is known as double stack service. Double  stack railroad
       well cars may be permanently coupled together to decrease stress and cargo dam
       age during train braking and acceleration.
                                   Technological Advances of Intermodal Shipping
                                            Truck trailers can be configured to travel on railroad tracks. The trailer is
                                            backed onto the end of a railroad track, positioned over two sets of rail-
                                            road axles and wheels (called bogeys), then lowered and attached, so it
                                            functions as a railroad car.

                                                 Rail car platforms can be configured into one longer articulated
                                                  platform, onto which trucks can drive to load and unload trailers.
                                                  Because the long, articulated platform has no slack action, it can
                                                  handle standard, non-reinforced trailers that normally cannot be
                                                  used in TOFC operation
                                                                                             Continued

                                   U.S. EPA SmartWay | EPA-420-F-16-034 | June 2016 | www.epa.gov/smartway

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       SmartWay
       MENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 
 U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Intermodal Shipping
A Glance at Clean Freight Strategies
                      Continued
   Savings and Benefits
   Intermodal transport is an attractive option for shipments over 500 miles. A freight train emits two-thirds less greenhouse gas
   emissions for every ton mile than a typical truck. More than 1 billion gallons of fuel would be saved each year if 1 0 percent of the
   highway freight was moved by rail.
     NEXT STEPS
1        Shippers, logistics
        providers, and
     trucking companies
     can consider inter-
     modal transport as a
     cost-saving and envi-
     ronmentally friendly
     option when arrang-
     ing for long distance
     transport.
2   Companies can
   determine if
intermodal transport
is appropriate for
parts of their com-
pany. Intermodal
transport may not
be suitable for all
goods. Time-sensitive
products may require
speedier or more
flexible delivery than
some railroads offer.
2   Continued
   Damage-sensitive
commodities may
call for a smoother
ride than freight
trains can provide.
However, rail car
manufacturers are
introducing advanced
suspension systems
and car designs that
better stabilize, cush-
ion and protect railed
cargo.

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