Unless you live and breathe logistics, intermodal isn’t a term you hear every day. So, what exactly is it? Well, “intermodal” refers to the use of multiple modes of transportation for a single shipment, such as moving freight by rail and truck. By using intermodal as a transportation solution, shippers enjoy the best of both worlds: the speed and efficiency of rail for long distances, and the flexibility of truck for short distances.
Logistics and transportation professionals will tell you an intermodal service is only as good as the rail network it rides on. Because of its network, Union Pacific remains the first intermodal choice to and from Mexico.
But we’re not standing still.
With a constantly evolving transportation industry, Union Pacific introduced its newest Mexico gateway service – Falcon Premium – and unlike other intermodal services, Falcon service connects three countries in North America all by rail.
Falcon Premium is a partnership between Class 1 railroads Union Pacific, GrupoMexico and Canadian National Railway. The service connects a dozen Canadian National terminals with GrupoMexico terminals in Monterrey and Silao, Mexico. Moreover, Falcon Premium will connect key Canadian National points including Detroit to Union Pacific in Illinois, and then to GrupoMexico’s terminals in Monterrey and Silao, through Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico.
Falcon is the result of a strategic collaboration among the three railroads and offers multiple benefits for wholesale intermodal providers and beneficial cargo owners, including an all-rail service across two borders. I’ve spent the majority of my three-decade career in the intermodal industry and have never experienced three Class 1 railroads acting as one to deliver this kind of service product to market. It was proof to me that a common goal in creating customer value was all that was needed for success.
It’s the heavy weight loading solution between the three countries, allowing shippers to load significantly higher than the industry standard. This means that shippers can optimize what they haul in their containers and reduce their overall transportation costs per ton. Additionally, this heavy weight loading capability allows shippers to transport a wider range of commodities, such as metals, lumber, paper and machinery.
Better for the Environment
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Another advantage is the calculated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. By using rail instead of truck for most of the journey, the Falcon Premium service can reduce the carbon footprint of transportation by as much as 75%. This is because rail is more fuel efficient and less polluting than trucks.
By limiting the use of truck to the first and last mile, this service can also reduce highway congestion, wear and tear on public roads, and noise pollution through communities. As a result, this service contributes in multiple ways to the environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the transportation industry.
And compared to other rail networks, Union Pacific is physically the shortest distance between Mexico and Chicago. Hundreds of miles are saved compared to other intermodal solutions, and for shippers this translates into service dependability and total delivered cost savings.
Better than Trucks Alone
An extra benefit of the Falcon Premium service is the advantage it has compared to over-the-road transportation. Over-the-road transportation refers to the use of trucks for long-distance hauling. While this mode of transportation may offer some flexibility for shippers, it also has many drawbacks, such as higher transportation costs, lower reliability from border delays, high risk of vandalism, and a higher environmental impact.
The bottom line: The new Falcon Premium service between GrupoMexico, Canadian National and Union Pacific is a milestone in North American transportation. It connects three countries in North America with a fast, reliable and cost-effective transportation solution. It offers several benefits for shippers and consumers, such as a mileage advantage, a heavy-weight loading capability, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and an advantage over over-the-road transportation.
Falcon Premium is a valuable addition to your logistics and transportation supply chain. It is the shortest and smartest intermodal solution between two points crossing three countries.