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If you’ve ever wondered how Norfolk Southern intermodal works, it’s easier than you think.


1. The process starts at the nearest intermodal ramp facility.

Domestic shipments usually start with delivery of an empty railroad-owned container or trailer from the nearest NS intermodal facility to the shipper’s dock  


2. Decide what equipment to use.

Trailer and container sizes and types vary, and customers can use their own or rent equipment from NS. After everything is loaded, the container or trailer is picked up and delivered to an NS intermodal facility, where it is planned for a specific train. 


3. Load your shipment.

Containers often are loaded two high, or “double-stacked,” to allow twice as many shipments to be moved on one train. This saves customers money, enhances transportation efficiencies, and supports NS conservation efforts by saving fuel and reducing emissions.

When it’s time to load, the terminal hostler positions the container or trailer beside the rail car that will be used for the line haul. A crane carefully lifts the container or trailer and positions it securely on the car for departure. 


4. Track your load as it heads to its destination.

Using the latest technology, NS ensures your shipments are loaded accurately and timely. You can track your freight online using NS e-commerce tools and connect with the customer service center for support en route. When your load reaches its destination, NS electronically notifies the local trucker that the unit is ready for final delivery to the destination dock. The trucker picks the load up and delivers it by appointment to the facility. 

If you have a shipment you would like to move by intermodal freight, you can:

Contact an NS Intermodal Advisor 

Contact an intermodal marketing company or one of NS' truckload partners. They are familiar with NS services and have pricing agreements with NS and can coordinate local railhead-to-customer door delivery.