Combined Truck/Rail Transportation Service:

Action Needed To Enhance Effectiveness

CED-78-3: Published: Dec 2, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 1977.

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Intermodal transportation service can increase efficiency through the combined use of different modes of transportation. Piggyback, the transportation of truck trailers and containers on rail flatcars, is one example of this service and offers the advantages of both truck and rail, including energy savings.

During the last decade, there has been some growth in piggyback, but it accounted for only 5.9 percent of total domestic rail freight car loadings in 1976. Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) officials believe that railroads do not promote piggyback as much as they could because they do not want traffic diverted from boxcars which have at least a 40-year lifespan. Shippers are discouraged from using piggyback because of slower delivery times, unattractive rates, and losses and damage in shipment. Problems faced by railroads in providing the service stem from basic differences between rail and truck services and the inflexibility of rail operations. Restrictions imposed by ICC have also discouraged piggyback growth.

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