Three Types of Modern Freight Trains

By Penny Morris
There are three types of modern freight trains.

Modern freight trains fulfill a strong need in global and national economies around the world. These powerful engines are able to move imports and exports across the country more efficiently than other means of transportation. The three most common types of modern freight trains are unit trains, mixed freight trains and intermodal trains.

Unit Trains

Unit trains are used to carry a large quantity of a specific product from one location to another in a short amount of time. Unit trains are useful for quick delivery turnarounds because they can return to their destination on the same track they arrived on and reload. Unit trains do not require switching tracks or remaining in the station any longer than necessary to offload their cargo. They are fast and cost-efficient for the sender.

Mixed Freight Trains

Mixed freight trains are also known as manifest trains. Unlike unit trains, which carry just one type of cargo in a single type of train car, mixed freight trains bring numerous different cars and cargo to their destination. They do not move as smoothly from one point to another as unit trains, but they are able to carry a greater amount of varied cargo.

Intermodal Trains

Intermodal transportation involves the transport of cargo by several different forms of transportation. The goods are shipped in intermodal containers. They may start their journey by long-haul truck before being transported to the train. In some cases the cargo may also be shipped overseas. Intermodal transportation is often not cost-effective for cargo that needs to be shipped short distances.

About the Author

Based in Tucson, Ariz., Penny Morris has been writing in both English and French since 2007. Morris has written articles on health and weight loss as well as foreign travel for various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from Wright State University. Morris is a Licensed Zumba Instructor.