Released December 1, 2014 Article
By Martin Coalson
Here’s a little-known fact: the vast majority of new vehicles are transported by rail. When cars come off the line at the plant — or arrive at a port, as is the case for imports — they are hauled via enclosed rail cars to rail terminals. Trains are responsible for the long haul, then trucks handle the short trip from rail terminal to local dealerships. The car you drove to work today? It likely spent some time on a rail car.
There’s a good reason for this. Railroads are the most efficient way to move large numbers of vehicles over long distances. But while about 70 percent of new vehicles are transported by rail, only a small portion of used vehicles take advantage of this efficient delivery network. This leaves a lot of room for remarketers to leverage a more affordable transport option.
So why don’t more used car shippers take advantage of rail? Part of it is simply lack of awareness of the benefits of rail. Another part is the highly fragmented nature of used vehicle shipments. It’s also true that railroads have gotten some bad press lately. This past winter, historic weather conditions combined with increased demand caused delays across the rail network. But railroads have worked diligently to catch up. They’ve also been proactive about finding solutions for the past year’s weather challenges to better prepare for similar circumstances in the future. Railroads are investing heavily in locomotive, terminal and track capacity. Likewise, railroads have been purchasing more auto racks to keep up with increased demand.
Used car shippers can benefit from rail, too. If new car makers can trust their vehicles to rail, so can used car shippers. After all, the used car you’re shipping was likely transported by rail when it came off the assembly line. Like new car shippers, used car shippers, too, can take advantage of the economies of rail, especially when moving multiple vehicles.
ShipCarsNow makes it easy to take advantage of rail. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad, ShipCarsNow provides multi-modal auto transport solutions, selecting the best combination of rail and highway service to meet shippers’ requirements for cost and transit time. By bundling multiple modes into a single, seamless service, we make sure remarketers get the best of both worlds.
Rail offers the advantages of capability and cost. The railroads are ready — they’ve been moving vehicles since the dawn of the auto industry, they have the capability, and they’re cost competitive. With rail, remarketers have the added advantage of leveraging available empty equipment as trains travel back to manufacturers to pick up new loads. That means even as OEM volumes increase, capacity should be available for used car shippers.
Rail provides unmatched safety and quality. Auto ramps are secure, lighted and guarded, and trains carry automobiles in fully enclosed rail cars. With Web-enabled tracking technology, you also get complete visibility of your vehicle shipment.
When motor carrier capacity gets tight and costs are on the rise, rail can provide both the capability and competitive rates remarketers seek for the transport of their vehicles. Now is the time to take advantage of the economies of scale rail offers.
Martin Coalson is president of ShipCarsNow (ShipCarsNow.com) and Insight Network Logistics (InsightNL.com). With a career-long focus on logistics, Coalson’s profound understanding of the needs of automotive shippers helps his team craft affordable, efficient multi-modal auto transport solutions.Download PDF