top of page
  • cameronc86

U.S. Intermodal Network: An Overview

In the mid-1900s, when modern shipping containers emerged, freight railroads and other transport companies began investing in a top-of-the-line intermodal network. According to WorldShipping.ORG, “the U.S. intermodal network is a shared system where public agencies own some portions like roads, bridges, and ports and private companies own or operate the rest, including trucks, trains and their track, and most port terminals.”

In short, an intermodal network provides seamless integration of rail, road, and sea movement. Designed to ensure the global competitiveness of the U.S., this essential freight network swiftly disperses cargo inland from port to city or town. In fact, it is a key player in the growth of the American economy.

In the following article, we will discuss the benefits of the U.S. intermodal network as well as the major railway companies.


A cost-effective and energy-efficient mode of transportation for everyday goods that can be carried on trucks or containers, the U.S. Intermodal Network is not only reliable, but it also saves shippers a lot of headaches.

As Union Pacific (one of the largest companies in the U.S. Intermodal Network) states, “intermodal shipping can save money and energy costs. Plus, it's reliable and provides transit times comparable to long-haul trucking. Union Pacific trains move one ton of freight 480 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel nearly three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucks.”

At the end of the day, the U.S Intermodal Network and its major railway companies work to increase capacity, reduce roadway congestion, and boost sustainability initiatives.

Major Railway Companies

To understand how the U.S. Intermodal Model Network functions, it is important to note that the U.S. mainland is divided by rail carriers and territories. TransportGeography.ORG mentions, “the North American rail transport system has a high level of geographical specialization with large rail carriers servicing substantial regional markets. Each carrier has its own facilities and thus its own markets along with the segments it controls.” In both the U.S. and Canada these carries include:

Burlington North Santa Fe - from Chicago branching west into the U.S.

Union Pacific - from Chicago branching west into the U.S. as well as into parts of Canada and Mexico

Canada National - from Chicago, east and west, along the Canadian border and down the Mississippi

Canada Pacific - from Chicago, east and west, along the Canadian border

CSX Corporation - from Chicago branching all over the East Coast of the U.S

Norfolk Southern - from Chicago branching all over the East Coast of the U.S

Kansas City Southern - from New Orleans into Mexico and up towards Chicago

As experts in the U.S Intermodal Network, ClearFreight is ready to assist you in evaluating your needs and identifying the best logistics solutions to help your supply chain run smoothly. Contact us today to hear how we can make shipping and logistics easier for you.

69 views0 comments


bottom of page