Rail Freight is the use of railroads and trains to transport cargo on land. Similar to other transportation methods, it can be used for transporting various kinds of goods. Trains can be used for part of the route or the entire journey, depending on the location of the shipper and the intended destination. Freight trains can haul bulk cargo, standardized shipping containers, or specially designed cars for a specific type of freight. Rail freight is cost-effective and environmentally friendly, compared to other freight methods such as air freight. The energy consumption by rail freight is 6x lower than by road freight for example, thus with increasing focus on sustainability it may well gain in importance in the coming years. Additionally, rail freight is much faster than ocean freight, though it is more expensive than sea freight but cheaper than air freight, for example.
Moving goods by train is perfect for high-value industrial products such as vehicles, electronics, and computer equipment, as well as promotional equipment that must reach their final destination as quickly as possible. These trains can be very long, with the record for freight train with the largest number of wagons being an incredible 375 wagons, which made it 4 km (2.48 miles) long!
The majority of the cargo transported by rail is handled as bulk cargo – transported unpackaged in large quantities. This kind of cargo can be dropped, poured, or shoveled into the railroad car. Since the introduction of the shipping standardized containers, rail freight transportation has also adapted it.
Rail freight transport is a forward-looking initiative in the international logistics scenario, and particularly on the European continent with its high-quality rail corridors for freight carriage. This is a competitive and clean means of transport which has enormous potential for growth, combined with the use of the already existing rail network. The statistics show that rail freight traffic has a growing tendency worldwide, with the exception of Africa. In 2019 alone, goods traveled approximately 3.1 billion tonne-kilometers by rail in Europe and Turkey. This number was almost 3.5 billion tonne-kilometers in Asia/Oceania and the Middle East.
Specialized logistic companies contribute to solving the equation of complicated supply chains, and organize everything that is necessary for the transport of goods by rail. Rail Freight operations generate information flows and cause the creation of value by the agents that take part in them, everyone from the Freight Forwarder to the Customs Clerk plays a vital role in the supply chain.
Suddenly occurring events are not uncommon when you are working with rail freight. Therefore you have to be flexible, have an eye for the essentials, and enjoy planning. If you have a career in Rail freight or are thinking of starting a career in this area, you should have a global perspective, like to take responsibility, and never lose sight of details.
A career in Rail freight often starts after studying, for example, logistics or being a trainee in Rail logistics. After getting your first experience in entry-level positions, for example as an Assistant, you will start gaining operational experience and processing orders. Through working with operational tasks, as for example Clerk or Rail Operator, you get extraordinary know-how of Rail freight, and your career path is going towards either becoming an expert in your niche, could be as an Rail Freight Specialist or in Product Development, or gaining more responsibility in your field, as Department Manager Rail Freight or Team Lead Rail Freight.