Train vs. Truck Shipping: Pros and Cons [Infographic]

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Freight Shipping by Train vs. Truck: Advantages and Disadvantages

[Updated June 2022]

Which mode of transport is more efficient for freight shipping and what are the advantages and disadvantages of train vs truck transportation? See our new infographic answering these questions. 

Freight Train vs. Truck Freight Shipping - Cost, Efficiency, Differences

Train

  • Railways consume up to 9x less energy per tonne-kilometer traveled than trucks
  • On average, trains are 4x more fuel-efficient
  • Can carry more freight at the same time
  • Cheaper for long-distance
  • Emit 75% fewer GHG emissions

Truck

  • Predictable scheduling
  • Cost-effective for short distances
  • Better for perishable foods that can be put in storage easily
  • Just-in-time delivery, door-to-door service
  • Huge opportunities to increase efficiency

Some bonus facts

Freight trains can reach as much as 2300 feet in length (roughly 700 meters) and, when fully loaded, they can weigh over 3.5 million pounds (around 1600 metric tons). 

In the USA Rail freight transport accounts for a third of all intercity freight volume. Yet it accounts for only about 2% of all emissions related to transport.

A single gallon of diesel fuel is enough for a freight train to transport a ton of freight for 470 miles. 

As per the Association of American Railroads, freight railroads account for only 0.5% of all of the USA’s greenhouse gas emissions. Heavy duty and medium-sized rucks, on the other hand, are second only to passenger cars making up around 25% of the USA’s emissions in 2020.

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