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Shipping by Rail vs. Trucking: Which is better?

The shipping by rail vs. trucking argument is one that has gone on for decades. Over the years, many people have asked – Is truckload better rail delivery? It may be tough to give a definite answer as both shipping options have their pros and cons. However, while both sides have their benefits, according to the stats, trucking does come out on top. Trucking services cater for about 70% of freight transported in Canada.

In truth, trucking services in Canada have not been around for as long as the rail option. Notwithstanding, its distinct advantages have made it the preferred choice for countless business owners. More and more companies opt to transport their cargo via the trucking system. However, this is not to say that rail shipping does not see its fair use. Several companies also move their commodities via rail based on various factors.

There are several options for freight delivery in Canada. But, undoubtedly, truckload services and rail shipping have made the most mark. However, this raises the questions of which is the better option. In this article, we are going to try and clear the shipping by rail vs. trucking controversy once and for all. By comparing the numerous advantages of trucking and, of course, those of rail shipping, we can arrive at which is ultimately better.

Trucking in Toronto: What to Expect

Trucking, or truckload shipping, is essentially the business of conveying cargo, in diverse forms, from one place to another. Essentially, a truck fully or partially loaded with various commodities moves from its origin to its destination. With truckload freight delivery, the origin is the pickup location, while the destination is where the final delivery happens.

Trucking in Toronto is no different from the US, except perhaps a few minor organizational differences. We will get into the details of the various advantages of trucking shortly.

On the other hand, rail shipping is also quite similar, except, you load your goods into a train. Freight shipping by rail involves the use of railroads and carriages to move your cargo from one place to another. A single train can pull numerous carriages, which can positively influence the number of commodities you can ship at once. Rail shipping is generally known for its ability to handle large volumes of shipments.

Is Trucking Better Than Shipping By Rail?

As a business owner who needs to move goods around frequently, it is understandable that you want the best option for freight shipping. Many of the questions people ask are ‘Is trucking a good idea for my cargo?’ or ‘Is trucking better than rail delivery?’. Read further to see what options top the shipping by rail vs. trucking debate.

Route flexibility

In terms of freedom to choose routes, the rail freight delivery system is limited. This is because shipping by rail can only go along routes where there are rail tracks. On the other hand, almost every roadway can accommodate a truck. 

Therefore, trucking services offer a lot more freedom to choose whatever route best favours your needs. For instance, a truckload company like All Freight Shipping offers various trucking services along several roads in Canada. Some of these include:

  • Vancouver to Toronto
  • Montreal to Toronto
  • Calgary to Toronto
  • Edmonton to Toronto
  • New York to Toronto
  • California to Toronto
  • Dallas to Toronto
  • Chicago to Toronto
  • New Jersey to Toronto

These are just some of the possible routes. Depending on your needs, trucks can usually go along any route.


This is another advantage of trucking. Due to the large amount of cargo that is usually on a train, scheduling can be a significant problem. A lot of extensive planning and human resources also go into pulling off a rail shipment. Therefore, this can lead to further delays in schedule. 

On the other hand, trucking services in Canada can offer services more promptly. As soon as your cargo gets on the truck, it is well on its way to the final destination. 


At first glance, freight delivery by rail may seem to be the more economical choice. This is especially true if you have to move your cargo over very long distances. However, with rail, your freight must first be delivered to a rail station or port, after which you transfer it to a final destination. 

This can add to the final cost you spend on the entire transportation. Conversely, with trucking, you have the option of door-to-door movements. It may be more expensive upfront, but it is usually more cost-effective in the long run.

Energy efficiency

Generally, trains are more efficient than trucks. That is, a train will use less fuel to move cargo across the same distance as a truck. On average, the rail system covers 400 ton-miles per gallon. 

This implies that trains are a greener option as they burn less fuel and therefore have a smaller carbon footprint. So the shipping by rail vs. trucking argument goes in favour of rail in terms of energy efficiency.


Finally, cargo safety is every business owner’s concern. While rail shipping is a relatively secure option, it does not offer the personal touch that trucking provides. With truckload shipping, the driver is always in relative proximity to your freight. So, if something goes wrong, they can easily detect and rectify it. This is especially vital when moving valuables or temperature-sensitive goods.

Trucking vs. Rail Shipping: Cost, When to use

Finally, in the shipping by rail vs. trucking debate, it always boils down to your needs and finances. In terms of cost, rail shipping is usually more effective over relatively long distances. However, sometimes trucking may be the better option over the same distance. On the flip side, for shorter distances, a trucking service in Canada is almost always the better choice.

As a guide, we can give you some scenarios when it may be best to go with truckload freight delivery:

  • Moving cargo over short distances
  • When you have a stringent deadline
  • Transporting food, medicine, and other sensitive products
  • Moving temperature-specific items

Final Take

Hopefully, we have helped you answer any questions you may have about the shipping by rail vs. trucking debate. So, which freight delivery option should you choose? It all depends on your needs, the quantity of your cargo, your timeframe and distance. 

All Freight Shipping can provide you with various trucking solutions for your shipping needs. We offer some of the best trucking services in Canada and the US with priority on your budget and delivery requirements. Talk to our truckload shipping experts today. Call +18662009989 to speak to an expert today!