Combined Truck/Rail Transportation Service:

Action Needed To Enhance Effectiveness

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

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

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.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: ICC should: (1) eliminate or modify restrictions on rail-owned trucking companies so that these railroads can perform piggyback more effectively; (2) eliminate or modify restrictions on truckers' use of piggyback; (3) approve special operating authorities for truckers who want to use piggyback service; and (4) review the adverse impact on piggyback from provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act and seek legislative authority, where needed, to make changes.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Feb 28, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Jan 16, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

Dec 14, 2017

Dec 4, 2017

Nov 30, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 2, 2017

Oct 31, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here