Friday, November 13, 2009

Ride the rails to clean, green, cost-effective shipping

The future of American transportation is…railroads?

Warren Buffett thinks so. His Berkshire Hathaway holding company made its biggest investment ever last week, buying 77 percent of the Burlington Northern railway, one of the nation’s largest, for $26 billion. If the Sage of Omaha is willing to commit to railroads to that extent, maybe they deserve a look from you, too.

J.B. Hunt, once known strictly as a truckload carrier, now earns the bulk of its revenue from intermodal operations, booking $456 million in intermodal business last quarter alone. The carrier has just signed an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway, and is actively looking to convert traditional truck traffic to intermodal, reported the Journal of Commerce.

Typically, railroads are known for hauling bulk commodities, materials like coal and grain that are relatively cheap and not time-sensitive. But intermodal shipping, a hybrid of trucks and rail, offers advantages for many categories of freight. Trains can move a ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel, versus an average of just 59 miles for a truck. In addition to being environmentally friendly, this makes rail transportation cheap.

Nationally, the largest user of intermodal service is UPS, certainly a time-sensitive operation. If you are moving significant quantities of material over long distances, you might want to consider hopping on board a train.

Kirk Shearer, COO
800-989-0054 x103

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