Rail Transportation

What is rail freight transportation?

Rail freight transport is a means of shipping cargo via train. Railway transport encompasses freight service in three general categories: unit trains, carload freight, and intermodal freight.

Types of cars used in the freight transportation industry:

There are hundreds or even thousands of different types of cargo being shipped every day, and many of those require specialized cars to accommodate them. The most common types of cars which are used in rail freight shipping today are as follows:

  • BOXCARS (used most often for consumer-packaged goods, auto parts, paper reams, canned goods, bagged products)/li>
  • HOPPER CARS – can be open-top or covered (designed for loose, unpalletized commodities, such as coal, sand, grain and wheat, corn, sugar, salt, etc.)
  • FLATCARS (used for carrying unusually large, long, or irregularly shaped cargo, such as oversized machinery or equipment, long poles, pipes, logs, lumber, steel plates, beams, wind turbines, etc.)
  • TANK CARS (designed for liquid and gas commodities – oil, chemicals, petrol, etc.)
  • GONDOLA CARS used for higher-density bulk cargo such as scrap metal, steel plates, gravel, etc.)
  • COIL CARS – used for carrying steel coils, copper coils, and plastic tubing.
  • REFRIGERATOR CARS car with temperature control, used for carrying frozen meat and fish, fresh produce, milk, beer and what not.
  • SPECIALITY CARS – special rail car used for large, fragile, or unusually shaped cargo.
    The majority of the cargo transported by rail is handled as bulk cargo – transported unpackaged in large quantities.
  • Railway transport: containers and freight trains

    According to ISO regulations, the industry standards are 20 feet and 40 feet container types. To increase the rail transport capacity, sometimes double stack containers are used, this implements carrying two layers of intermodal containers, and is mainly used in the USA.
    There are also Piggyback trains, which are referred to where a transportation unit can be carried on the back of something else. For instance, road vehicles such as semi-trailers or truck-trailer combinations can be loaded onto trains with the help of ramps or by crane.

    LCL shipping by railway transportation

    LCL (less than container load) or groupage shipments can be easily transported by railway. Agora Freight ensures seamless supply chains and offers consolidation service for LCL, which moves regularly to Europe and Russia from China. You can find out more about our consolidation and also warehousing services in China on the dedicated webpage.

    When to choose rail transportation?

    Railway transportation is a good choice when an accurate delivery time is required, it is a punctual means of transport, and weather conditions are unlikely to block the operation of rail freight shipping. It is estimated twice as quick as ocean freight and 8 times cheaper than air freight.

    Railway freight transportation is cost-effective and can be more efficient than other modes of transportation. It has lower fuel costs compared to road transport, especially when shipping a high volume of freight, is suitable for various kinds of goods and is famous for its multimodal shipments. The containers and trailers used are compatible with both road and rail freight, often called multimodal transport, which means that there is no need to unload and reload at transit points; the whole container or trailer is simply lifted and attached from the train to the truck or vice versa.

    As for its environmental benefits, using railway transportation helps to reduce exhaust emissions as trains burn less fuel than trucks. A high level of security is another benefit, such as GPS tracking, which is widely used in trains that guarantees the safety of cargo during rail freight trasportation.

    Problems you might face

    The drawback of railway transportation is the lack of flexibility. Sometimes the place of destination is out of reach of the railway station. In this case, the cargo will arrive at the nearest station and then be moved via road to the destination.

    Approximate range of rates, what they depend on

    When choosing rail transportation, be aware that there are the following costs:

    • station prices
    • operating prices
    • service prices and additional railway equipment prices.

    To get the rate for the rail services immediately, please visit Agora Freight Calculator. All you need is to choose the station of departure and destination, fill in the basic parameters of your cargo and click on Search. Agora Freight’s clever algorithms and simply designed interface are able to give you real-time prices in seconds.


    Shanghai, China


    Mala, Poland

    Cargo type



    20000.0 KG

    The cost from 12 452 USD


    Chengdu, China


    Minsk, Belarus

    Cargo type



    20000.0 KG

    The cost from 8 877 USD


    Xiamen, China


    Bely Rast, Russia

    Cargo type



    20000.0 KG

    The cost from 11 110 USD

    Agora Freight provides rail freight transport for both FCL (Full-Container Loads) or LCL (Less-than-a-Container Loads or groupage cargo) shipments. The routes covered may be from China to European countries including Russia and Belarus, Central Asia and vice versa, as well as within the Russian Federation. This is especially used to or from the Russian ports where the distances are prohibitive for overland trucking.

    In the field of domestic and international cargo transport by rail, we offer:

    • optimal routes for cargo delivery by rail
    • multimodal container transportation, including door-to-door delivery
    • liaison with the shipper to collect and prepare the shipment details before railway transportation, namely: cargo readiness and container stuffing dates, options for placing and securing cargo, documentation preparation, delivery of loaded containers to the departure railway station, customs clearance, etc.
    • shipments from port of discharge terminals on block container trains
    • coordination of rail transport (rail waybills) and other documents
    • 24/7 cargo tracking and notifications

    We can offer either cargo transportation by rail, for example, from China to the Russian Federation, but also a comprehensive logistics service, including:

    • railway transport services
    • organization of customs clearance in China, Russia and EU countries
    • cargo insurance covering all risks
    • survey and other services

    How It Works


    Enter the route, weight, and dimensions of cargo.


    Choose the most suitable options for the shipment of your cargo.


    Submit your booking which will be immediately assigned to one of our specialists who will manage everything from there.


    Track your cargo in your personal area, automatic e-mail or sms notifications on status changes may be switched on.

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