What are the Advantages of Shipping by Train? 

July 29, 2021

We have been endlessly fascinated with the beauty of trains. The language of freight trains; steam engines, the whistle of a train, the fact there is a train whistle. Rail transport is cost-effective and better for some unique products; solar panels, furniture, and lumber to name just a few.

Trains are massive machines capable of carrying any amount of goods, restricted only by the number of engines and freight cars joined together.

Shipping by train provides advantages, not only for the environment (trains burn less fuel than trucks per weight per kilometre), but it is also generally less expensive and faster for long distances of approximately 250 kilometres or more.


At Messenger Freight, we believe strongly in rail transport; two rail spurs are located within our warehouse facilities in St. Thomas ON to offer indoor, off and on loading.

Comparing the costs and advantages of rail shipping versus truck:

A combination of both forms of movement of goods; rail and truck, better serves our clients. Are you shipping goods in steel shipping containers? This is often more easily transported on a freight car. The less a container of goods needs to be opened and moved, the more cost-effective it is for our clients.

We make use of our rail lines with direct shipment transfers from freight car to truck, depending on the best way to move your goods to their destination.



Messenger Freight Systems of St. Thomas and Cambridge, ON, specializes in rail and truck transportation and warehousing services.  

Read our article ‘Warehousing Advantages at a 3PL Transport Provider – White Glove Services’
Canadian National Railway (CNR) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) are the two principal rail operators in Canada. The term freight train comes from the enormous movement of goods by rail accounting for 95% of the rail use versus 5% commuter rail service. The CNR rail lines connect to the trade corridors of the U.S. and Mexico and west to British Columbia, while the CPR lines run in six provinces and 13 states.


St. Thomas, Ontario, has a long-standing history as the ‘The Railway City’.

According to Railway City Tourism, the first railway between picturesque Port Stanley and St. Thomas was completed 165 years ago in 1856, with a total of eight railway companies eventually running rail lines through St. Thomas by 1914. 

A car manufacturing sector grew around St. Thomas’ rail routes that moved parts throughout Southwestern Ontario and Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan.


Which products are best shipped by rail?

Freight cars can hold just about anything. Even though St. Thomas’ association drew car manufacturers to the area to take advantage of the direct shipping to the U.S. and Mexico, trains move much more. Standard shipping containers are often used as rail shipment containers. Here’s a partial list of goods that are regularly moved by rail.

Household goods: Furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics, food.

Building materials: Lumber, pipe, metal, paper, brick, shingles, rebar.

Food: Canned, frozen, seafood, produce, pre-packaged, dairy.

Beverages: Alcoholic, juices.

Liquids: Petroleum, ethanol, diesel fuel, biodiesel.

Vehicle: Cars, trucks, tractors, auto parts.

Bulk items: Flour, sand, plastic pellets, grain.

Very Large Items: Wind turbines, machinery, military.

Other: Solar panels, animal feed, Christmas trees, irrigation equipment, minerals, fabric, paper, waste.


What cannot be shipped by rail?

Personal property or anything live cannot be shipped by rail.

With decades of experience in rail and truck shipping, we are here to help you with your transportation needs.

 Messenger Freight Systems has two strategically located transport offices. Please call our St. Thomas head office at (519) 631 9604 or our Cambridge facility at (519) 623 9604. Contact us here.