Rail 101

Transporting America’s Automobiles for More Than 100 Years

Did you know vehicles have been shipped by rail for more than 100 years? Today, 70% of new vehicles are shipped by rail.

Rail cars are fully enclosed to help ensure your shipment arrives damage-free. In addition to being a safe, reliable form of transport, rail also offers economies of scale. For shipments of eight or more vehicles moving more than 500 miles, transporting cars by train makes sense. Automotive rail cars can also hold up to 50% more cars than a truck, meaning more efficient shipping and reduced costs.

To learn how rail can work for you, contact a sales representative.

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Rail Transportation Equipment

Automotive rail cars are commonly referred to as auto racks. There are five types of rail cars: Articulated Bi-Level, AutoMax, Bi-Level, Tri-Level and Uni-Level. These fully enclosed rail cars protect your vehicles from theft, vandalism and the elements.

Type of Rail Equipment Car Description Primary Use (type of vehicle) Approximate Load Factor
Articulated Bi-Level Two bi-level rail cars connected by a flexible panel. Trucks, SUVs, mini-vans 14–16
AutoMax A specialized rail car with adjustable decks that can be configured as bi- or tri-level. Trucks, SUVs, mini-vans and passenger cars 18–26
Bi-Level A rail car with two decks. Trucks, SUVs, mini-vans 8–10
Tri-Level A rail car with three decks. Passenger cars 14–15
Uni-Level A rail car with one deck. Oversize vehicles, vans, tractor trailers 2–4

Loading and Shipment Quality

Rail transport is focused on the safe handling of your vehicles. Rail terminal employees are not permitted to wear rings, watches or belt buckles that could potentially scratch a car during the loading and unloading process. Auto rail cars also have special protection on the inside walls to prevent damage to car door edges during on- and off-loading.

The Association of American Railroads governs compliance to very strict loading and unloading standards and audits railroad auto terminals on damage prevention programs.

Environmentally Friendly Transport

Railroads provide the safest, most fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible mode of ground freight transportation.

Railroads can move one ton of freight 475 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel. New technology is constantly being developed to continue to improve fuel efficiency. Freight trains are three to four times more fuel efficient than trucks and generate a carbon footprint that is, on average, 75% less than that of trucks.

To learn more about rail, contact a sales representative.

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