post by Marco Muilwijk, Manager Cordstrap Training Center
Transportation of goods via railroads is not common in all countries around the globe. In some countries, the infra-structure simply isn’t designed or available to transport cargo by rail. In other countries this infra-structure is much better developed and a lot of cargo is shipped by rail. The only disadvantage is that not all destinations can be reached and many times a combination of road and rail transport is needed.
This also applies to transport via waterways. As long as both sender and receiver are located alongside railroads or water these forms of transport are ideal. The railroads can be a substitute for road transport or inland transport over water, but support always needs to come from road transport.
A big pro of transport by rail is the amount of cargo that can be transported from A to B at one time. A wide variety of cargos can be shipped via rail such as liquids, steel, lumber, paper, chemicals and project cargos. The rail carriers have specially designed wagons for different types of cargo. It is also possible to transport containers, swap bodies and trailers. All these cargo carrying units are called Cargo Transport Units (CTU’s).
The railroads are well suited for cargo transportation. However, it is important that the cargo is well secured to prevent damage. Cargo loss can have devastating consequences. Train speeds can be very high and lost or loose cargo can ultimately lead to train derailments. A train cannot easily take another route in case of an obstruction such as lost cargo on the tracks.
Regardless of the transport means, road, rail, sea or air, all cargos must be adequately secured in or on the CTU before the journey starts and a variety of securing systems are possible:
• Timber blocking, bracing and scotching
• Void filling with inflatable dunnage bags
• Direct and indirect fastenings such as:
o Woven straps
o Non-woven straps (polyester straps with a polymer coating such as CC strapping)
• Friction enhancing inserts such as rubber anti-slip mats
The following organizations provide guidelines, rules and regulations that need to be followed for good cargo securing by rail:
• International Railway Union (IUC) in Europe
• American Association of Railroads (AAR) in North America
• International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The CTU Guidelines provide general guidelines for securing all types or cargos in and on CTUs.
Specific rules and regulations may differ from one country or even state to another and it is of great importance that you make yourself acquainted with sufficient knowledge before shipping your goods by rail. Just remember, our door is always open to help with any inquiries you may have!