Why is trucking better than rail freight shipping?

It is believed that a cargo delivery by rail is cheaper and more efficient than by road. To understand why it is not so, it is enough to give one simple example.

Let’s say you need to deliver freight over a distance of 700 kilometers – for example, from Tallinn to Lithuania. Practically trucking by road takes about 7-8 hours. While the same freight delivered by rail can reach a destination in 12-24 hours. Why is this so?

Limitations of rail freight shipping

Freight shipped by rail takes more time due to several additional links in the logistics process. First, the freight has to be transported by truck to a railway terminal. After that, the freight has to be unloaded from the vehicle and loaded into a train car.

As the train traffic is subject to a strict schedule, the freight remains at the railway terminal for several extra hours and even days.

Of course, the train schedule can be considered as a positive factor since it can be clearly predicted when the cargo approaches the arrival railway station. But in case of shipping below a distance of 700 km the train schedule becomes rather a negative factor that maximizes the delivery time.

Furthermore, upon arrival at the arrival station, the freight still does not reach a consignee’s address: the cargo has to be unloaded from a train and loaded into a vehicle. Noteworthy to mention that unloading or loading increases a risk of damage of the freight.

Advantages of trucking

Cargo trucking by road below a distance of 700 kilometers (for example, within the Baltic States) is much faster and more efficient than cargo shipping by rail. And here are the reasons why.

  • First, a freight can be loaded directly at the shipper’s door and unloaded at the consignee’s door. The absence of intermediate steps makes the delivery more reliable and faster which is extremely significant for perishable goods and express shipments.
  • Secondly, thanks to the well-developed network of highways, a freight delivered by road in Europe can get to almost any destination. Moreover goods can be transported via an alternative route in case of an accident or construction works along the way.
  • Thirdly, trucking is most reasonable in case of consolidated shipment.

When is it more profitable to deliver cargo by road?

Cargo delivery by rail can be efficient enough if goods have a long storage period and there are no time restrictions. In addition, shipment by train is advisable if the railway is the only way to reach a consignee. However, this option is more relevant for Russia than for Europe.

Meanwhile, transportation by road is highly efficient in case of the urgent cargo delivery, as well as in case of LTL cargo transportation.

Do you need an efficient cargo delivery service in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Simply contact BaltFreight OÜ! 


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