RailRunner® has developed a Road-Ready bi-modal rail system, a railcar, trailer and container chassis system that is enabling container-based intermodal transportation service to a huge market of manufacturers, farmers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers who are not located near traditional intermodal hubs. The patented RailRunner Terminal Anywhere System® makes intermodal transportation cost-effective for shorter distances and for smaller markets because it allows a shipper to shift from road to rail and back without the need for transloading any freight or the need for terminals and expensive cranes to lift the container from one mode to another. RailRunner’s strategy in most applications is to build its business through RailRunner service operators: independent businesses, including railroads, that use RailRunner equipment to deliver container transportation service to local markets.
Beyond its substantial economic impact, the increased use of intermodal transportation – making the greatest possible use of energy-efficient rail – offers the opportunity to make a meaningful reduction in the environmental impact of global commerce. The fuel consumption per ton-mile of freight on rail is only about one quarter of highway consumption. That means a big reduction in carbon emissions, as well as transportation costs. Shifting a shipment of 100,000 pounds of cargo from road to rail for 1,000 miles, for example, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 6,552 pounds.
The reality of global commerce is that every year, more and more freight moves around the world by container. As the pace of global trade and the need for more specialized products continue to accelerate, it is the container that provides the logistic foundation.
As a consequence, container intermodal traffic, combining the advantages of water to rail and highway transport, has been growing rapidly. The volume of containers shipped by rail in the United States has increased from 8.6 million units in 2002 to a projected 12.3 million in 2007, according to the Intermodal Association of North America.
The economic and environmental benefits of this combination of containerized goods and intermodal traffic, however, has not yet reached deep into the infrastructure of the North American, European and Asian economies, where much of the world’s manufacturing and agricultural bases are located. In many large segments of the world, shippers have been unable to use the advantages of rail to reduce their transportation costs because they don’t have the consistent volume of shipments to justify a traditional intermodal hub close to the source of production. Moving containers from mode to mode – ship to rail to truck and back – has traditionally required significant amounts of trackside real estate and substantial capital investment in terminals built around massive cranes or a shift to non-standard, non-container intermodal vehicles. Thus only large transportation hubs could serve as transfer points to provide the flexibility and cost saving that containerized intermodal transport can offer.
RailRunner is a pioneering company in providing access to container-based rail transport to a much wid er market of manufacturers, farmers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers, thus dramatically extending the reach of current intermodal rail transportation. RailRunner’s Terminal Anywhere System enables cost-effective intermodal transportation for both shorter distances – less than 1,000 miles – and to smaller, underserved markets. Manufactured goods, specialized agri-products, etc., can be loaded into containers at the factory or at the farm. The loaded container, mounted on a RailRunner purpose built chassis, can then be transported by truck or by locomotive and can easily be shifted from one transport mode to the other. This allows shippers to transport their products in the same container (“identity preserved”), whether on highway, rail or ship, all the way to the final destination.
After many years of development, testing, and initial commercial operation, RailRunner is now poised to bring its innovative technology to a wide array of markets throughout the U.S. and abroad.