What Can You Ship by Rail?

A Freight Shipper's Guide

Medium | Paint Cans

We take a close look at all of the items that ride the rails and keep America moving.

Wondering what products you can ship by rail? The short answer is that trains can haul just about anything. From materials mined from the earth to the products that make a house a home and everything in between, you can ship it by rail.

But let’s get into a little more detail.

Don't miss the "What Can You Ship by Rail?" video at the end! 

Building Materials

Medium | Pipe End View


Ask a rail fan and they’ll say trains build America. Even though they may be a little biased, it’s sort of true. Think about the materials used to build your own home – odds are, they probably moved by rail before making their way to the job site. Those building materials include things like:

  • Lumber
  • Pipe
  • Metals
  • Paper
  • Rebar
  • Metal Coil
  • Bricks

Household Goods

Medium | Kitchen

Household Goods

If you take a closer look at the items inside your house, most everything you see can ship by rail.

  • Boxes
  • Parcels
  • Shoes
  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Electronics   

Note: While railroads do ship goods that ultimately end up in peoples' homes, they typically don't ship personal property (e.g., an individual person's household goods). So where they do ship household goods, they don't ship individual households.


Medium | Cheese Board


What’s in you fridge? How about your kitchen cabinets? Most of that — including the cold stuff! — can move by rail.

  • Packaged Food
  • Canned Goods
  • Frozen Food
  • Produce
  • Seafood
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate


Medium | Beer Bottles


Beverages can move by rail, too — even those that come in glass bottles.

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Tequila
  • Orange Juice


Medium | Gas Pump


Everything from the fuel that powers your vehicle and heats/cools your home to the corn syrup that sweetens your cereal can be moved by rail.

  • Ethanol
  • Biodiesel
  • Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)
  • Corn Syrup
  • Petroleum
  • LPG

Large Items

Medium | Wind Turbines

Large Items

Rail cars can also hold really large items, especially those that can be difficult to move by truck.

  • Transformers
  • Wind Turbine Blades
  • Machinery
  • Military Vehicles

Small Items in Large Quantities

Medium | Flour Bag

Small Items in Large Quantities

Teeny tiny items in really big quantities (better known as bulk items) are also ideal for rail.

  • Sand
  • Plastic Pellets
  • Soda Ash
  • Flour


Medium | Car Wheel


A train can also move vehicles — and even the parts they're made of (but please note freight railroads typically don't ship personal vehicles).

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • SUVs
  • Auto Parts

A Little Bit of Everything Else

Medium | Paint Cans

A Little Bit of Everything Else

What else? Well, just about anything can ship by rail.

  • Paper
  • Solar Panels
  • Waste
  • Feed Products
  • Christmas Trees
  • Paint
  • Carpet
  • Irrigation Equipment
  • Fibers
  • Grains
  • Minerals
  • And More

What's Left?

Medium | Happy Husky

That leaves one question: What can’t you ship by rail? It’s a short list: Personal property, passengers, pets or other living things.

Learn More

Want to learn more about shipping by rail? Get in touch to find out where you can ship and how you can ship door to door, even if you don’t have access to railroad tracks today.

Related Articles:


What Can You Ship by Rail? video

Latest Stories

Share This!