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 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 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.
- train image by Sergey Pesterev from Fotolia.com