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Everything about Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport!

Everything about Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport!

An International trade is a way to expand the business as much as possible, but once you have made your sale or purchase, you should look for shipping way from that country to your preferred destination. Quick access to products is essential to customer satisfaction and transportation is an important part of this process. Therefore, choosing the right method of transportation is also very important because choosing the wrong method will impose a lot of costs on the customer.

International transportation means the transfer of goods between two countries. The two countries may have land, sea or air borders. Transportation and distribution play an important role in international trade. Companies need to choose the right shipping method to ensure the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their packages. There are several factors that influence a company’s decision about the type of shipping. These factors can be business needs and type of goods.

Road, sea, rail and air are the four ways of import and export. As the first step, companies must consider some factors such as the size, weight and type of goods. For example, for transporting food or fruit, speed is very important and choosing the shortest and fastest route is vital. Shipping cost is another very important element, and it depends on the parties to the transaction. Destination, country law, value of goods and transport risk are other factors that need to be considered. Therefore, anyone who wants to do business with international transportation must evaluate the quality, cost, time and conditions in order to make the right choice!

These days customers like to compare these ways such as Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, or Sea freight VS Air freight, or other ways! It will help them to know the difference better; therefore, they can decide better!

This article aims to discuss Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport. At the end of this article, you will have comprehensive information!

Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

When it comes to talk about “Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport”, it is better to mention the features of each way. Then, a reader, with an open view, can understand the differences and similarities of them.

The history of Rail freight

In the discussion of Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, we start with the history of rail freight. By the Middle Ages, industry had developed so such that traditional modes of transportation were no longer responsive, and artisans were trying to find new and effective ways.

It was in 1556 that a number of German engineers built small rails to facilitate the movement of coals to mines. Initially, the rails were made of wood that they did not have much strength. Hence, the wooden rails gradually gave way to cast iron strips, and this is how giant wagons were invented. Wagons that worked with the steam system and no longer needed manpower or animals to move.

How is rail transportation done?

In the discussion of Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, you should first know how rail transport is done! Transportation by rail is under certain conditions. Special freight cars are used to move goods, each of which has a unique function. There are different types of freight wagons in terms of appearance, that they are mentioned in the following section.

Flat wagons

Flat wagons are used in various types of rail transport. These wagons are used to carry heavy machinery and goods that are long. Goods such as iron parts and beams are transported by two-axle, four-axis or six-axis flat wagons.

Wagons with roofs

These wagons are designed in such a way that after placing the goods, the door is closed and sealed. This will keep the goods away from any damage. Some goods that are not resistant to sunlight, oxygen and moisture are moved through these wagons. Usually, these wagons are made in two forms, two-axle and four-axle.

Short-edged and long-edged wagons

These wagons are used in various types of rail transportation. Short-edged wagons are used to transport hardware and building materials, and long-edged wagons are used to transport minerals and industrial goods. These wagons are capable of carrying heavy loads and, in many cases, they carry several tons of load.

Tank wagons

Another wagon used in the rail transport industry is tank wagons. These wagons, like other wagons, are made in two types, two-axle and four-axle. These wagons are used to transport fuel and various liquids. Many traders faced many difficulties in transporting such goods, and f tank wagons has allayed their concerns about transporting liquid goods. These goods will reach their destination in the shortest possible time.

Refrigerated wagons

Other wagons used in various types of rail transportation (and it is essential to know them in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport) are refrigerated wagons that they are used to transport a variety of perishable materials such as dairy, meat and vegetables. These wagons have a professional cooling system and the refrigerator temperature is adjusted automatically during the trip.

Rail transport rules and regulations

Many countries have signed the international conventions on various types of rail transport, each of which addresses a specific issue.

These conventions include:

  • The International Convention on the Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Rail (217) 1916,
  • The Comprehensive Convention on International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) 1980,
  • The International Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Rail (CIM) 1961,
  • The Convention International Transport by Rail (FITOC),
  • Amending Protocol to the Comprehensive International Transport Convention by Rail 1990
  • The Amending Protocol to the International Transport Convention (FTTOC).

These conventions are designed for international rail transport so that the member states can enjoy all the international facilities and capacities!

Advantages of rail transportation, in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

When it comes to Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, it is a significant issue to point to the advantages of each way. Rail transport has unique advantages, the most important of them are mentioned below:

  • Less environmental impact: One of the most important benefits of rail transportation is the possibility of using non-fossil fuels. This saves fuel. Energy consumption on trains is about one-sixth less than other ways ( it is very vital factor in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport).
  • Less pollution: Noise pollution is one of the biggest problems in society and many other types of transportation have caused environmental pollution. Rail transportation does not involve any noise pollution because it takes place in the suburbs and even outside the city.
  • Reduction of stop time: One of the most important advantages of rail transportation is the reduction of stop time. Trains have the ability to run the routes completely without stopping. This allows the goods to reach their destination as quickly as possible (but they are not very fast, and in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, the air freight is the fastest!)

What documents are required to transport goods by rail transport?

One of the important factor in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport is to be familiar with the documents needed in each way. In order to transfer goods through rail freight companies, all relevant documents must be prepared and all required forms must be completed. In addition to the laws in the country which goods are transported, many transportation companies add a number of personal rules to the contract that must be signed, otherwise, the company will not send your goods to the destination. In general, relevant contracts include these factors:

  • Name
  • Product details
  •  Sender and recipient address
  •  Insurance

These contracts specify all the amounts and conditions of shipment, and if the transport company does not comply with one of them, it will be obliged to compensate the damages.

After the above contract is settled, a bill of lading will be exchanged between the parties. This form is a document and in case of loss, the transport company will not take any responsibility for your goods. In some cases, the shipping company has not paid any damages despite damaging the customer’s goods. Because the bill of lading has been lost by the customer and the company has taken full advantage of this opportunity to acquit itself!

Disadvantages of rail transportation, in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

The disadvantages of rail transportation (in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport) are as the following:

  • Using this method, it is not possible to provide services to deprived countries (due to lack of services).
  • Mechanical problems may cause service problems.
  • Rail transport is not very fast (it is one crucial matter that must be taken into consideration in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport)
  • It is possible to damage the product.

The history of air cargo

Now it is time to talk about air cargo in the matter of rail freight transport VS Air freight transport.

The first cargo flight took place on November 7, 1910, in the United States, between Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. Pilot Philip Erwin Parmelia piloted a Wright Model B plane 65 miles (105 km) with 200-pound silk packages to open a store.

In that year, a newspaper quoted that the cargo flight covered Dayton and Columbus’s distance in 66 minutes, but that flight was officially recorded at 57 minutes, which was an excellent record in that time!

Therefore, air freight became ubiquitous worldwide, and many people used this flexible way to transport their packages!

The world’s first official airmail flight also took place on February 18, 1911, at a major exhibition in Agar and Owood provinces in British India. The aviation exhibition organizer, Walter Wingham, obtained a flight permit from the Gendarmerie General in India to provide airmail services to produce advertisements for the exhibition and raise money for charity.

This was the first airmail flight by Henry Pique to fly 6,500 letters in 13 kilometers (8.1 miles) from Allahabad to Naini, the nearest Mumbai-Calcutta line station. On this occasion, the aircraft was a “Humber-Sommer” wireless aircraft with a power of about 37 KW, and it delivered letters by air within 30 minutes.

In Britain, the first airmail service was on September 9, 1911, in the English suburbs of Handon and the Postmaster-General office in Windsor-Berkshire. This was part of the King George V’s Celebration Ceremony, at the suggestion of Sir Walter Wingham, who oversaw the successful airline flight test in India. The service was launched in less than a month and delivered 35 packages with 16 flights.

In the early 1920s, aviation increased rapidly as employers and industry owners realized that aircraft could carry valuable, low-volume cargo faster than trains and ships.

The first scheduled flight from London to Paris in 1919 had only one passenger, but it carried leather cargo for a shoe manufacturer and food for a restaurant in France.

Besides, the movie industry was one of the first customers for air freight. The original version of the movies was flown to copying centers and then sent for distribution in European cinemas!

All in all, air freight has become one of the most significant ways of transporting, and imagining a world without flights is impossible in this century!

What is meant by air cargo in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport?

In Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, it is better to know what exactly the air cargo is! Air transport plays a significant role in countries’ business, often as an economic growth indicator. The development of aviation has also made more significant progress today by improving cultural and social services, the expansion of economic activities, the increase of regional employment, and tourism development. 

The development of air transport depends not only on natural, economic, and social factors but also on political and legal decisions and applying financial and executive rules and regulations. 

For this reason, reviewing legislation and removing many restrictive administrative regulations has always been a factor in expanding the airline’s operations worldwide. The pace of change and advancement of aviation technology is inevitable with aviation industry technology development in infrastructure planning.

Air cargo is transported by particular aircraft such as giant Beluga or Antonov 225 from country to destination. It can be the exact meaning of air transportation. 

Different Types of air cargo

In rail freight transport VS air freight transport, we mentioned that there are different methods in rail freight, the same thing happened in air freight. The type of air transit is determined based on three critical factors:

  • Volume of goods
  • Delivery time
  • Price

However, it is better to know that none of them is superior to the other. In other words, it can be said that each of them is used depending on the needs of individuals and provides the possibility of easy movement of goods or passengers.

In principle, you should choose the best option for transporting your goods by knowing these methods’ characteristics!

Besides, the costs and value of goods transported, their size and weight should be evaluated; therefore, if the product is gold or banknotes, you should choose the safest air transportation method.

Charter flight (both passengers and goods)

When all the seats on an airplane are given to one airline, it is called a charter flight. For example, when an airline charters a flight route such as China-Tokyo for a certain period, it is called a China-Tokyo charter flight. These flights are usually used for busy roads so that tickets can be booked at any time.

This transportation method chooses the shortest routes to travel so as not to get stuck in air traffic. Of course, private and tourism agencies use charter flights, and other agencies such as sports clubs, government agencies, and offices can book this service for their staff. The most important advantages of the charter method are the following:

  • Cost savings
  • Shorter route than other types of air transport
  • Possibility of the group booking
  • Case of long-term reservation; for example, three months
  • Lease the aircraft for a specified period

Commercial flight

Another type of air cargo is the commercial transit method. In this method, only goods are moved, but their transportation has unique rules and principles determined by ICAO International Airlines. Transportation of goods is done in two ways: 

  • Cargo
  • Ferrite

The first method is more cost-effective. 

In cargo ( a commercial method ), the goods are shipped on masse, and people can send their low loads to the destination and other shipments. This method is performed by special cargo planes, and it is done under safety standards.

Ferrite is also used to transport goods that are intended for long-distance travel and are not commercial. For this purpose, they must use aircraft that can carry their cargo in this way. Usually, most passenger planes can take goods by ferrite, and there is no need to worry about this.

Dangerous goods by air cargo, in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

As we mentioned before, in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, some dangerous goods can be transported by rail. But there are some limitation in air freight.

Dangerous goods are items and materials that endanger the health of the aircraft. Carrying such things must be based on the guidelines of the “International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)” and the “Association of Airlines (IATA).” 

Hazardous materials and goods must be packed according to unique and international conditions and rules of airfreight. This packaging must be of high quality and with a safe structure to prevent leakage in the conditions of temperature humidity changes, pressure, and vibration. 

Each package must have a suitable label, a relevant logo, and it must have symbols such as:

  • The international number for hazardous substances UN number
  • Businesses requesting for transporting of dangerous goods and DGR 

The customer is obliged to provide the following international documents for the freight forwarder for dangerous goods by airfreight:

  • Certificate for the safe transport of goods
  • Certificate of origin
  • Material safety data sheet

How to transit our goods by airfreight?

One of the important matter in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, it the transit way in each of these methods. All you have to do for air freight is to go to one of the airline agencies and send your goods to the relevant destination by filling out the application form and paying the fee. This method is very safe and very efficient. 

The advantages of air cargo, in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

The essential advantages of air cargo in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport are:

  • Transit cargo to all parts of the country and the world
  • Cooperation with most freight and airline companies
  • Enjoy high speed in intercity service and transportation
  • Provide door-to-door service
  • Calculate the cost of cargo based on the weight and size of the goods, which saves costs
  • Inquire about the status of the load via SMS and email

What package size is vital for air freight service?

If you want to choose this way in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, it is essential to know all the detailed information. Air cargo are ideal methods for these conditions:

  • When goods are under 200 kg 
  • When goods aren’t in bad shape

It is better to remember that in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport , air freight is not suitable for super large cargo. In airfreight, goods can transport in the Express or Classic method. In Express, all goods arrive between 1 to 3 business days at the destination, but it takes 4 to 8 business days in a second way.

  • All you have to do is go to one of the airline agencies and send your goods to the relevant destination by filling out the application form and paying the fee. This method is very safe and very efficient. 

In Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, which way is cheaper?

One of the most frequent question in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport is what is the cheaper way. As you know, the air freight is the most expensive way among all methods of transportation (although for small packages, it is the best way).

Concluding Remarks in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport

In this article, we tried to cover all important information in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport. As you see both of them have some advantages and disadvantages. Based on you situation, you can choose one of these ways!


Dear customers

If you need an impressive rate and competitive offer for Door to Door Rail and Trucking service from China to European countries, please contact our Sale Team.

in Rail freight transport VS Air freight transport, which one is the best?

It depends on the situation you have. if your goods are not very heavy the air freight is the best way, but if they are heavy, it is better to choose the rail freight.

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