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As more industries shift towards containerizing their goods, congestion and cost arising from the increase in intermodal traffic will demand partnerships among rail carriers, truck and ocean carrier. Short haul intermodal services, generally defined as rail moves between 200 to 1,000 miles, like any other services, are driven by performance and cost. In a recent survey5 of more than 4,000 trucking executives, the American Transportation Research Institute revealed that driver shortage was the greatest concern amongst truck operators. Can shippers in short haul, low density markets realize the benefit of rail intermodal services? A successful rail intermodal service requires several elements, including sufficient freight to justify the service, access to rail services between the origin and destination, and an intermodal marketing company or logistics service to manage the service for the shipper. Rail Length-of-Haul (LOH), rail rates, rolling stock costs, terminal costs and dray charges at origin or destination all contribute to door-to-door short haul shipping costs. Three methods available for short haul shipping include multi-unit well cars, multi-purpose 89’ flat cars, and RailRunner® bi-modal technology. 3-Unit Well Car: The 3-unit well car, a typical example of multi-unit well cars, is approximately 203’ long and weighs about 45,500 lbs.
RailRunner: RailRunner products vary in weight and length, and depends on whether a 53’, 40’ or 20’ shipping container is being transported. In order to fully appreciate their relative efficiencies, it is necessary to evaluate each type of intermodal railcar operation by considering its line haul costs, lift expenses, equipment and rolling stock costs, terminal requirements, surface preparation costs and other factors over annual container transaction volume.
This asset optimization study concludes that competitive short haul rail intermodal services can be provided for short haul and low density markets most effectively with RailRunner technology. Capital Cost Comparison: Capital cost comparison - A 3-unit well car capital cost is typically less expensive, per container payload than RailRunner bogie and chassis combinations because well cars are a double-stack technology while RailRunner is a single stack technology. Rail Operating Cost Comparison: Line-haul costs of a 3-unit well car train, when compared with a RailRunner train carrying the same number of containers, has slightly less trailing tonnage and may offer marginal efficiencies in train running costs. Intermodal Operating Comparison: A well car must be loaded or unloaded at a terminal that has container lift capabilities.
General: It should also be noted that well car operations are limited to railroads that have double-stack clearances, which are not always available in short haul lanes. Product-to-Product Comparison: Product-to-product comparison – A multi-purpose 89' flat car, like RailRunner, carries containers in a single stack configuration. Rail Operating Cost Comparison: Line-haul costs of a multi-purpose 89' flat car train, when compared with a RailRunner train carrying the same number of containers, has similar in length and trailing tonnage and therefore, has comparable efficiencies in train running costs. Intermodal Operating Comparison: An 89' flat car, as per the well car, must be loaded or unloaded at a terminal that has container lift capabilities. General: Costly investment in lift equipment and terminal surface preparation for a flat car operation, paired with the added lease cost of marine chassis needed for drayage creates high unit costs in low-density markets.
Optimal utilization of rail and terminal assets is critical for successful intermodal operations.
In order to effectively model the circumstances required for comparison, initial assumptions have to be made about rail operating conditions, rolling stock deployed and terminal assts and infrastructure built or acquired. In the models, rolling stock units are determined by train length and frequency; train frequency required to generate the appropriate number of annual payloads. 89' Flat Cars are of a similar density per unit length as RailRunner, so for a given maximum length train, the number of consists required to achieve an equivalent number of annual payloads will be quite similar to RailRunner. Another variable is the use of additional power as trailing tonnage crosses certain boundaries. Both the total cost and operating costs have been calculated for each type of terminal and applied to the overall model. All analyses (equipment, rolling stock, surface prep, and labor) are presented in terms of cost only. Figure 4, above, shows the comparison of line haul cost between RailRunner and 89' flat cars. Terminal infrastructure and operating costs for flat cars are essentially the same as those of well cars.

If there was ever an industry that requires a tough product, and a resilient method with which to carry goods, it’s the business of Ocean Freight.  Steel shipping containers are exposed to extremely harsh elements during transport, and have the potential for major damage.
At the outset, Corten was mainly used in Intermodal Coal Transport, and was very effective in the harsh environments of Rail Yards and International Collieries. Cor-Ten is alloyed steel mixed with other types of metals that reacts with exposure to air and water in a similar manner to other non-porous metals. Due to the success of Corten steel storage containers in the shipping industry, industrial engineers soon became savvy, and the weathering compound has since become very prevalent in bridge building and other major feats of industrial or commercial construction.
If you are in the market to rent or purchase a container, if you are looking into building structures with cargo boxes or simply need something for portable storage, Corten steel storage containers are your best and most reliable option. Wood Harbinger developed a creative solution to fix the power limitations by optimizing the use of available capacity from underutilized portions of the existing electrical power infrastructure. The Port of Tacoma Commission approved a $341 million capital improvement plan that included redeveloping Pierce County Terminal into a major container terminal. Capital Costs of approximately $210 million include container yard, twelve-track intermodal yard, seven-track support yard, infrastructure, utilities relocation, roadway work, traffic revisions, and waterway and turning basin widening. Wood Harbinger provided the mechanical and electrical design and construction administration for the intermodal yard compressed air systems on this project. The enclosed compressor building, as well as the compressed air and electrical distribution systems, are designed for a future expansion of the intermodal rail yard, with a planned capacity increase of 50 percent over what is currently installed. In the past decade there has been a significant increase in moving municipal solid waste (MSW) on railroads. The more commonly seen ISO 20’ intermodal containers are used for transporting new-products from country-to-country. 20’ MSW containers usually travel in large blocks or solid trains on 80- and 89-foot flat cars. The MSW container design is based on a steel frame incorporating ISO components for interchangeability. For more information on trash containers, see Railborne Trash and Waste Containers of New Jersey by David Casdorph. Industry experts forecast that by 2010, as much as 89% of global general cargo will be shipped in container2.
Continued growth of the global economy translates into greater intermodal and domestic freight volumes.
However, even though rail intermodal traffic has continues to grow, intermodal terminals are being closed, consolidated and relocated. In the past, lack of rail density, expensive terminal costs, competitive highway service, costly container lifting equipment and rolling stock availability have kept short line rail carriers from offering intermodal services. Driver availability combined with high and unpredictable diesel fuel prices, new hours of service regulation, driver retention problems, increased congestion, high tolls and environmental issues increase truckers' costs and restrict their ability to add capacity. Typically rail costs are 30% of highway costs, but this advantage can be eroded in short-haul situations.
The following sections support this conclusion in direct comparisons of Well Car and Flat Car operations to RailRunner-based service. These lifts, whether gantry crane or reach stacker, are expensive to acquire, operate and maintain, and can only be cost efficient in terminals with high container volume throughput. A flat car train, with its single stack capabilities, is approximately the same length as a RailRunner train, requiring development of similar terminals and terminal track lengths.
3-Unit Well Car shows that the line-haul cost of RailRunner and a 3-unit well car are close, with the principal variation arising when additional consists are added because of the lower density of RailRunner. Well Car above shows a comparison of a RailRunner terminal fixed cost per payload to a double-stack or flat car terminal as a function of annual payloads. RailRunner - The study confirms that it is possible to establish a cost effective and efficient short haul, rail served intermodal service. RailRunner - Flat cars per payload capital cost are less expensive than RailRunner, but are more expensive than a well car per payload costs.

When steel is exposed to air or water, due to having a relatively porous oxide layer, it holds moisture and promotes corrosion. When speaking with any sales representative, make sure that you request Corten steel shipping containers, as there are still some older containers out there that are made of traditional steel compounds will not last as long as a Corten steel container.
There have been no reported cases of double stacking as this would probably exceed most railroad height restrictions. Each container is equipped with fork lift pockets for loading, unloading and moving around transfer facilities. These volumes are concentrating in key hubs (very often in major metropolitan areas) and are distributed from these hubs via a network of highway and rail services.
These on-going restructuring efforts are mainly due to rail mergers, line rationalizations and efforts to increase operating efficiencies, but often leave smaller secondary markets stranded without any reliable intermodal service.
However, given current trends in the trucking industry, continued closure of rail intermodal terminals, and developments in new rail technologies, distances as short as 130 miles can be successfully served by rail4. A fundamental question is whether or not current intermodal technology can offer advantages to short-haul or low-density markets.
All well car operations require specialized container lift equipment at either end, used for changing the container transport mode from rail to road, or vice versa. Operating costs and challenges, for the flat car, are similar to that listed for well car operations – heavy container lifting equipment, costly surface preparation and a need for spare equipment all contribute to operating costs.
In addition, terminal surface preparation required to accommodate heavy container lifts is more expensive than the surface required for a RailRunner operation. Costly investment in lift equipment and terminal surface preparation for a well car operation, paired with the added lease cost of marine chassis needed for drayage, creates high unit costs in low-density markets.
Although well car per payload capital costs are lower than RailRunner per payload capital costs, and well cars offer certain efficiencies because of its double-stack capabilities, such benefits are negated by the cost of terminal surface preparation and investment in heavy container lift equipment, . Flat car benefits are negated by the cost of terminal surface preparation and investment in heavy container lift equipment, which is similar to that required for well cars, This model creates an even stronger case for the RailRunner technology and, as shown in Figure 5 Total Cost RailRunner vs. In a short haul corridor, these escalating levels of freight are predominately carried by trucks, on the same highway corridors where there is increased personal travel (expressed in vehicle miles traveled (VMTs), and creating levels of compound congestion on highways.
A RailRunner operation does not require any lift or costly terminal surface preparation, and can be operated at a dedicated terminal or any siding or spur that has a level grade. A RailRunner operation does not require any lift or costly terminal surface preparation and can be operated at a dedicated terminal or any siding or spur that has a level grade. Using the RailRunner Terminal Anywhere® System provides a much lower breakeven point than the well car operation.
Flat Car, the total cost per payload for RailRunner is lower across the entire annual volume range. Many of the used steel shipping container for sale  available on the market today are made using Cor-ten steel. Many containers are manufactured Corten steel storage containers, and then painted in a controlled environment, further extending the life of the product and of course improving the overall appearance of the container.
These VMT levels are growing at rates which cannot be sustained in a continued growth scenario. This switch of transportation mode can be preformed on relatively inexpensive dedicated terminal, or on remote rail sidings or spurs that have been level graded. Well Car, showing the total cost per payload, RailRunner is profitable for container volumes ranging between 5,000 and 45,000 containers per year.

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