Why Auto Transport by Rail Isn’t More Popular
Like Tamagotchis, pet rocks and disco, auto transportation by rail is a relic of a bygone era. In today’s fast-paced, modern society, trains are just too slow, too unwieldy, and as a result the railroads are slowly phasing out of use. Just like the telegraph and leaded gasoline, the world is moving on from rail transportation, and it’s not looking back. As more and more businesses eschew the comforts of the rails for the benefits of over-the-road logistics services, it’s surprising that there are as many companies that operate along the railroads as there are today, but when you look at an industry like auto shipping, you start to see that the railroads are even less used than by other industries.
Roughly 90% of the over-the-road auto transport companies operating today provide open auto transport services. We’ve talked about some of the advantages of open auto transport before, too. The remaining 10% are all the other ones. They’re the enclosed carriers, the flatbed transport trucks, the rail companies and the specialty shippers. The auto transportation industry has figured out the way that things work best, and it’s been working that way for decades now. Auto transport by rail was once the backbone of the industry, though, make no mistake; at a time when rail transportation was the go-to logistics solution for most people and businesses, everyone shipped their vehicles by rail. Auto transportation by truck was in its infancy, and the railroads were generally a cheaper and safer option. This was especially true for manufacturers; Detroit was the main manufacturing hub, and the rail lines there were some of the busiest in nation. Over the years, though, new advances in security and efficiency have made auto transport by truck the main choice of transport, and the industry has responded in kind. Today, auto transport by rail is all but gone.
Today, auto transport by rail is generally harder to find, with only a select few routes still operating. Most of the routes that still see service on the railroads, at least for individual shippers, are along the east coast, up and down the eastern seaboard through the largest metro areas in the country. Amtrak also provides some car shipping services, generally for customers that are also taking the train, so you can talk to them about that for more information. But on the whole there are few brokers that actually offer auto transport by rail services nowadays, mainly because it’s much more expensive along all but the most heavily-traveled routes, it generally takes longer than shipping via truck, and is restrictive in that you can only go where the tracks are, which means customers will have to pick their vehicles up at the train station as opposed to from a carrier right outside their home. If you fill out our free online quote request form you can get multiple free quotes to ship your vehicle from reputable and dependable brokerages, and you can talk to them about if they ship via rail or not. Most will likely say no, to tell you the truth, but there may be a select few that can get it done if the route and price are right.