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Which means of transportation should you choose for your goods: by truck or by train?

Which means of transportation should you choose for your goods: by truck or by train?

Given the huge distances, shipping is a major element of the Canadian economy.

The Canadian railroad network is one of the largest in the world and it is mainly used for the transport of bulk material (cereals, oil products, minerals, wood…) and intermodal transport of maritime containers.

There has been a lot of debate about the necessity to limit the ecological impact of shipping by truck. The government has been thinking of alternative solutions such as shipping goods by train or making use of the electrification of transportation of goods.

Here are some indications that will help you to choose the type of transport best suited to your needs.

The advantages and disadvantages of shipping by truck or by train

The train: the best ecological solution

The advantages of shipping by train compared to shipping by truck:

  • A fuel consumption economy (reduction in the dependency on oil products) ;
  • Pollution reduction (greenhouse gases) ;
  • Reduction in traffic buildups ;
  • Increased road security with less trucks on the roads ;
  • Secure goods;
  • Ideal for large volumes and long distances ;
  • Economic for long distances.

The disadvantages of shipping by train compared to shipping by truck:

  • Handling and bulk breaking ;
  • Dependency on road haulier for pre and post carriage with final delivery ;
  • Lack of flexibility ;
  • Problems or incidents on the road network (snow, etc.) ;
  • Not adapted to short distances ;
  • Uncertainty about departure and arrival dates ;
  • Safety issues for the population in the transportation of dangerous goods.

Shipping by truck gives more flexibility

The advantages of shipping by truck compared to shipping by train:

  • Just-in-time delivery ;
  • More flexibility ;
  • Direct transportation (no go-betweens) ;
  • Door-to-door delivery with no bulk breaking ;
  • Shorter transit times depending on destinations ;
  • Wide range of transportation, LTL shipping, courier, intermodal shipping, etc.

The disadvantages of shipping by truck compared to shipping by train:

  • Less environmentally-friendly ;
  • Road safety risks with many trucks on the roads ;
  • Traffic buildups ;
  • Weather conditions may delay deliveries;
  • Compulsory rest time for drivers to be taken into account in the delivery timeframes.

Some clients who have dealt with truck shipping before have stumbled upon the lack of reliability and of flexibility of that kind of shipment. Therefore, shipping by truck is the best “customized” shipping solution.

Shipping by truck or by train: how to choose?

So which one should you opt for? This depends on the type and the quantity of goods being transported, along with the timeframe and the distance. Then again, your shipping company can come to you with different solutions, taking into account your budget and delivery requirements.

So, which type of shipping solution are you going to choose?