If you’re looking into the various modes of transport that would benefit your business and are not sure which option is the best for you, we’re here to help! In one of our previous articles we’ve put road and rail freight forwarding head to head, presenting the pros and cons of each, so you can better decide what to go with. In today’s article we’re comparing rail shipping and air cargo transport, presenting the undeniably advantageous propositions of each option, without forgetting about their respective disadvantages.

Environmental impact

Transport is responsible for about one-fifth of global CO2 emissions. The aviation industry accounts for 11.6% of these emissions, of which 81% is passenger transportation and 19% is freight forwarding. If our calculations are correct, then 2.2% of transportation-related carbon-dioxide emissions come from air freight, which is more than double of what rail accounts for (1% including both passenger and freight transport!). If your business cares about the impact your activity has on the natural world and the environment around us, then rail freight forwarding is your best bet.

Type and quantity of cargo

When it comes to the type of cargo that needs to be transported, a large variety of merchandise can be transported both via air and by rail, including hazardous goods. But while you can ship a wide array of dangerous goods via train, the case is not the same when it comes to air. The type of hazardous cargo you can move with the help of planes is quite limited, as numerous materials are forbidden.

The aviation industry is the ideal choice for anyone looking to transport cargo that has a size of up to 200 kg. While this is quite a significant size for a package, air is not the best choice for anyone interested in shipping large quantities of merchandise. Rail, on the other hand, is much stronger in this regard. With the help of a single locomotive and a line of wagons, one can transport up to 1,600 net tons, which is fantastic news to anyone looking to ship bulk cargo.

Merchandise safety

Both rail and air freight transport operators offer insurance options for their clients. While insurance may cost extra, it might be worth investing in, since it basically guarantees that your goods will arrive to their destination safely. Or, if that’s not the case, you will be compensated in accordance with your insurance contract. The cargo is impeccably packed in suitable containers in both cases and undergoes minimal handling, which further decreases the chance of the goods being damaged.

Time of transit and delivery

Air travel is currently the fastest mode of transportation for both freight and passengers. It enjoys high speed in intercity service, which is a real advantage when compared to other ways of shipping cargo. On the downside, air freight forwarding can be heavily influenced by the weather and other factors, causing unforeseen delays in shipment delivery times.

Trains are somewhat less influenced by external factors, despite the chance of mechanical failure hanging in the balance. A professional rail freight and logistics company will perform regular maintenance services on their wagons and locomotives to avoid and prevent surprise mechanical failures. And while rail is certainly not the fastest transportation option (especially in Romania, where the railways are in dire condition), it is certainly the most reliable one.

Reach and destinations

One of the undeniable advantages of air shipping consists of its capability to transit cargo all over the world. In Romania, however, the reach of air traffic is limited, as merely 16 cities enjoy the convenience of an airport. This significantly restricts the destinations where air travel can offer shipping services without having to include road transport.

On the other hand, rail freight corridors run through major parts of the country, offering many more options in terms of reach and destinations. While the rail network in Romania is not well-developed in terms of quality, it is quite impressively spread out, covering all areas and regions.

Transportation costs

Air freight is currently the most expensive transportation option on the market. Despite this, one of its advantages is the fact that the cost of cargo is calculated based on the size of the package.

The cost of a rail freight shipment varies greatly, based on a number of key factors that can influence pricing. And while rail transport might not be the most budget-friendly solution to shipping small packages, it is definitely the most cost-effective option for transporting bulk cargo.

Still have questions? Interested in finding our more about rail freight transport? Feel free to reach out to the MMV Rail Romania team for a personalized quote!