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Trucking vs Rail

The great freight debate continues on, pitting trucks against trains in the search for the most efficient shipping strategy. And while both sides have their merits, trucking still comes out on top – accounting for 70% of all freight transported in the US.

It’s true that the rail system dominates in terms of fuel economy, covering 400 ton-miles per gallon. But while the railroads are ideal for hauling large loads at low cost, they’re not so good at delivering smaller orders to specific locations, and are completely unsuitable for transporting freight over short distances. This is where trucking becomes necessary, as trucks are much more flexible in where they go and when, and require no expensive infrastructure to get there.

Timely delivery is another huge advantage to trucking, and not something the rail system can realistically hope to compete with. Trucks can adapt to the scheduling needs of their clients, and requires less extensive planning and labor to operate. In addition, perishable foods are most often transported by truck, as the need to put items in storage makes rail problematic. According to the Association of American Railroads, farm products accounted for only 7.8% of freight moved in 2009.

So, while both trucking and rail certainly have their place in the freight industry, the rail transport infrastructure still requires significant upgrades before it can begin to keep up or cover as much ground. From all of us here at Motherload Transport: keep on truckin’.