With increased use of containerization rail container service has developed in many countries to provide the international shipper with door to door movement of goods under seal, originating and terminating inland. This eliminates several loadings and changes of carriers and reduces costs substantially. Unfortunately such savings are not always possible for all types of cargo.
For many commodities of high unit value and low weight and volume international air freight is a reasonable choice. Air Freight has shown the fastest growth rate for freight transportation even though it accounts for only a fraction of total international shipments. Although air freight can cost two or five times the surface charges for general cargo, some cost reduction is realized reduced packing requirements paperwork, insurance and the cost of money tied up in inventory. Although usually not enough to offset the higher rates charged for airfreight it can as illustrated be a justifiable alternative if the commodity has high unit value or high inventory costs, or if delivery time is a concern. Many products moving to foreign markets meet these criteria.
In the last decade, the services available to the international shipper have continuously improved both in the home market and abroad. Inter modal services. A transportation system that unites various modes of transportation into one seamless movement of goods from factory to the customer’s port of entry, have become more efficient s deregulation has allowed the coupling of various modes of transportation. In addition, inter modal marketing companies (IMCs) have evolved to broker transportation services so that an exporter can make one transaction with an IMC that takes care of the movement of goods from factory to customer, rivaling the simplicity of single mode freight transportation . The IMC stitches together each of the transportation modes involved in freight movements, which may reach as many as for separate transportation modes. All of this can be done within guaranteed periods, with 98 per cent on time performance schedules more the norm than the exception. As one logistics specialists commented. No matter how fast or timely the ship carrying a 45 foot container from Shenzhen to Long Beach, it is the speed and dependability of the whole pipeline – the underlying modes and logistics functions to achieve the door to door requirements of Inter modal services in other parts of the world are not as advanced as in the United states, Europe is closest to providing similar services, however, deregulation and barriers that existed before unification have yet to be eliminated. Unlike truck transportation Europe’s 26 railways have not capitalized on the removal of borders in Europe’s single market. Progress is being made as railroads are beginning to restructure and a pan European inter modal marketing company similar to those in the United States has been formed. Before long it will be possible to extend the services in the United States to European customers so that one transaction can be made to ensure freight delivery from a factory in the United states to a final customer in Europe .Such services are now becoming available in Asia and Latin America as improvements in transportation services are being in both areas.
Rail transportation between the United States an Mexico improved with investments by Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific that have created a direct route from Chicago to Mexico City, further, the proposed merger between Canadian national and Burlington northern. Santa Fe will establish a North American rail line form Canada into Mexico. US railroad companies’ investments in Brazil, New Zealand, and Britain call for major investments in the improvement of this rail system. Moving goods rapidly and on timely schedule are more important toady ever and the improvement of rail systems and the development of inter modal systems will go a long way towards making that possible.