Rails still make the world go round. Trucks have taken a lot of pressure off railcars, but rail is still the primary transportation method for vast numbers of goods. Maintaining railcar storage and railcars themselves is essential but expensive.
Without railcar switching, most of the modern world of logistics would collapse under its own pressure. Let’s explore railcar switching, its benefits, and its effect on logistics and transport.
What Is Railcar Switching?
Railcar switching is the process of breaking up trains and their cars and modifying them to fit the specific needs of a particular shipment — if a shipment is small, the railcar will be small as well. This process happens within the confines of the rail yard, where professionals make calculations and swap trains or train cars according to their intended purpose.
The process sounds simple on paper, but railcar switching is quite complicated. Lots of mathematics, coordinating, and planning go into the process. Even a single mistake can destroy the entire operation.
After trains are broken up into parts, they are classified and stored for further use. The train cars themselves vary widely in their purpose, so proper railcar storage and classification is crucial. All of this must be fast-paced, professional, and streamlined.
Railcar switching is usually taken care of by professional railcar switching companies, although they do much more than simply break up rail cars. The procedure must be done in a specific yard, following very strict safety regulations and training deadlines.
The switching process itself is straightforward in theory and the primary method of forming trains.
What Does Railcar Switching Accomplish?
Railcar switching is extremely important for the logistics industry. Not only does it ensure the right rail cars are used for each transport, but it ensures everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Railcar switching is essential to the world of transport and logistics, and it involves several different aspects.
1. Railcar Inspection and Preparation
After each use, a railcar must be inspected for any faults or damage potentially occurring during transportation. Rails are not always particularly railcar-friendly, and numerous hazards along the way can tarnish the structural integrity of a railcar. The inspection process also extends to goods stored inside railcars.
The inspection and preparation process occurs during railcar switching. After passing inspection, the preparation process begins. This entails preparing the railcar for the next journey and switching, storing, or classifying it.
2. Railcar Repair and Sanitation
The next step in railcar switching is railcar repair. If the inspection process finds any faults in the railcar, they are repaired by on-site professionals. After being repaired, the rail car must be cleaned in preparation for storage, classification, or the next journey.
Maintaining the cleanliness of the railcar is essential. Sometimes, consumer goods are transported, and a filthy or used up railcar could cause the products to be damaged or tainted. If you have ever received a leaky or filthy package, the railcar probably was not maintained properly. Proper maintenance is key to the rail industry — and not just for the rail cars themselves.
3. Railcar Loading and Unloading
Loading and unloading a railcar based on its upcoming destination is a fairly simple process. Railcars are numbered based on their journey and locomotive, and they are loaded accordingly. Locomotives usually pull many rail cars at once, and coordinating such a loading effort can be difficult.
On-site professionals handle this aspect of railcar switching too, and they make sure adequate rail cars carry the appropriate goods. Proper preparation for loading and unloading is more tedious and more difficult than the process itself.
The Benefits of Railcar Switching
There are many benefits of railcar switching. Not only is the process integral to proper transportation and logistics standards, but it is also an excellent method to save money, ensure consistency, and provide quality customer service.
The logistics industry is all about micromanagement. Railcar switching is not an easy process. It requires a vast number of on-site professionals, and so professional railcar switching companies handle the job.
In addition to consistent, quality, cost-effective service, the benefits of railcar switching include:
- Reduced labor costs,
- Fantastic railcar storage,
- Proper safety standards,
- Professional equipment handling,
- Streamlined railcar movement efficiency,
- Continual service intervals,
- Space-aware site management, and
- Improved fleet utilization.
Railcar switching companies offer services far beyond breaking up and making up railcars for locomotives. They also offer professional management and cost-effective solutions for the transportation industry.
Is Railcar Switching Expensive?
A process following such strict safety regulations and tight deadlines cannot be cheap. The amount of labor, skill, and micromanagement essential to railcar switching is staggering.
Railcar switching companies charge between $150 and $250 per railcar. Admittedly this might sound like a huge amount of money when you take all the railcars into account. Although the total price can be high, it ultimately proves to be a cost-effective solution.
Railcar switching companies handle all servicing, cleaning, loading, unloading, and maintenance tasks. They also do their job safely and efficiently. When you consider all the essential aspects of railcar switching, a railcar switching company is a bargain. Furthermore, you save money in the long run.
For More Information
Railcar switching companies serve a fundamental purpose around the world, ensuring transportation is fast, safe, and cost-efficient. If you are looking for a rail and logistics solutions partner, contact US Rail and Logistics today!