Intermodal & Drayage Trucking – How are they connected?

Shipping and logistics is confusing. There is a whole lot of terminology that gets thrown around to refer to different modes, trailer types, fees, everything else. Two terms that seem to go hand in hand are intermodal and drayage trucking. It is to the point that it almost seems like you cannot have one without the other. They are even used interchangeably at times.

However, each mode, intermodal and drayage trucking, is very different. This blog will go over how they differ and how they are connected. Let’s start off by defining each of the terms.

Intermodal shipping

Intermodal shipping is anytime that shipping involves more than one mode to move a container, truck, air, rail, and ocean. If two modes are used then it automatically becomes intermodal, simple as that.

Drayage Trucking

Drayage trucking, on the other hand, is defined as the transport of goods over a short distance. Additionally, drayage is typically part of a bigger shipment, a shipment that is usually intermodal. This is why drayage containers are often used, because it makes it easier to transfer the load from one mode to another.

This also means that drayage is almost always a part of an intermodal shipment at some point. Somewhere in the chain, there’s going to be a short run from one mode to another or from one mode to a warehouse. All these interconnected shipments and processes are what cause shipping intermodally to be such a challenge.

Additionally, there are more details that come into play in both intermodal and drayage trucking. Feel free to read up more on both shipping intermodally and drayage trucking.

Intermodal and Drayage Trucking for Transportation Providers

So, as we have shown, shipping intermodally and drayage trucking is very interconnected… for the shipper. This may not be the case for the carriers or brokers though. In most cases, the transportation provider is only involved in one step.  So, while the shipment may contain shipping via rail, truck, and ocean the transportation provider will only see one small piece of it. It is even to the point that some transportation companies focus entirely on just one small step.  An example would be handling ONLY the drayage trucking from the rail yard to its final destination.


Because of this specialization, it is often beneficial for shippers to partner with a shipping provider. Even when the 3PL broker isn’t entirely focused on a particular niche within intermodal or drayage trucking they probably have a team that is. This expertise is invaluable to ensure the shipping process moves along smoothly. It allows you to navigate through the shipment without incurring fees or having the shipment be late.

At Becker Logistics, we handle drayage trucking and intermodal shipments every day. Our team is well versed and our carrier base is over 45,000 strong. If you want to find out more about our operations feel free to reach out directly or you could always request a quote and start shipping immediately.

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