KSL TV (Salt Lake City) reported today that there may soon be some relief coming to the shipping bottleneck that is choking inventory levels on everything from electronics to home goods. The solution involves a 200-year-old innovation that helped tame the West... trains.

Port of Long Beach - Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
Port of Long Beach - Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

How could this help Montana?

A deal was reached between the Long Beach Port Authority, Utah Inland Port Authority, and Union Pacific Railroad that could eventually help alleviate the shortage of some products in Montana. According to KSL's report,

All cargo destined for the Intermountain West will be shipped to Utah by train before being distributed to its final destination by truck, according to a press release from Union Pacific.

Shipping officials quoted in the article noted that most of this cargo is currently transported by truck from Long Beach to individual cities in western states like Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada. With the new agreement, cargo will be shipped from Long Beach by rail to Salt Lake, then distributed by truck to its final destination.

Duluth rail train yard in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM

Trains are more efficient than trucks.

No offense to any of my truck driving friends and family, but according to data, trains are far more efficient than trucks when it comes to transporting large amounts of stuff. The Association of American Railroads, a rail industry trade group, claims:

  • One train can carry the freight of hundreds of trucks.
  • Rail freight is 3 - 4 times more fuel-efficient than shipping by truck.
  • Trains can move 1 ton of freight 480 miles on one gallon of fuel.

OPINION: Obviously, we need trucks. Final destination delivery by train is impossible for most retailers. The mall isn't located on a rail spur, nor is your neighborhood grocery store. And there is a 100% chance that an Amazon train won't be stopping by your front door either. This new deal to start running more trains from the Port of Long Beach to Utah appears to be a great option. Let the truckers take it from there.


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