Ship with BNSF-Intermodal-FAQs

Intermodal Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What levels of intermodal service does BNSF offer?

BNSF Railway offers a range of intermodal service options designed to meet your specific shipping requirements. BNSF Intermodal's two primary service options are Expedited and Standard. The Expedited service averages about 800 miles per day and the Standard service averages about 600 miles per day.

Who provides door-to-door service on BNSF?

BNSF partners with the industry's top motor carriers to provide comprehensive door-to-door service nationwide. To find out which carrier(s) might be right for you, contact a BNSF sales rep or send an email to intermodal@bnsf.com.

How are carbon emissions calculated?

BNSF calculates carbon emissions with a carbon emission estimator that was developed in collaboration with ClearCarbon Consulting, Inc. The algorithms used within the tool were structured using the U.S. EPA's Climate Leaders program emission factors (Direct Emissions from Mobile Combustion Sources, May 2008).

Where can I get more information on BNSF intermodal?

For an overview of intermodal, check out BNSF's Intermodal in Action video. In addition, BNSF offers a wide range of information on the Intermodal page, or send an email to intermodal@bnsf.com or call 800-326-5999.

How do I get started shipping intermodal with BNSF?

Shipping via BNSF Intermodal is easy. To get started, visit BNSF's Intermodal page or contact BNSF.

How can I find out whether a hazardous material is accepted or prohibited for shipment?

You can use this handy search tool to look up your commodity. In addition, to see other hazardous Intermodal shipment information, see the Prohibited Hazardous commodities.

Motor Carrier/3PL Questions

Do you provide door-to-door service?

BNSF partners with the industry's top motor carriers to provide comprehensive door-to-door service nationwide. To find a carrier that might be right for you, contact BNSF.

Do I need to provide my own equipment to ship intermodal?

If you do not own assets, BNSF can help by partnering with industry-leading asset-owning transportation companies that provide the trailers, containers or other equipment in order to ship via intermodal. To learn more, contact BNSF.

What are the advantages of BNSF’s asset-based model of intermodal?

BNSF's partnership with industry-leading transportation companies provides the assets you need to ship intermodal and experience all the benefits intermodal has to offer. This partnership ensures access to capacity even during peak periods.

If I own my own equipment, can I ship with BNSF?

Yes. BNSF partners with asset-owning carriers who supply equipment allowing each party to focus on their areas of expertise. This allows carriers to work on door-to-door solutions with their ultimate customers. Contact BNSF for more information.

Where are your schedules?

BNSF offers the industry's widest range of intermodal service schedules and market reach. Discover BNSF's Intermodal transit schedule for your specific origins and destinations – see BNSF's intermodal service schedules.

What are intermodal goals hours?

Intermodal goals hours refer to the scheduled elapsed time to move from rail origin (day/time specific cutoff) to rail destination (day/time specific availability). See the intermodal service schedules.

What are your rates?

BNSF partners with carriers or other logistics partners to provide seamless door-to-door product. Getting set up as a customer is the first step in becoming a BNSF partner. To get started, please contact BNSF.

Does BNSF ship in Canada/Mexico?

BNSF is always looking to expand into new markets. If you have opportunities in Canada or Mexico, please contact BNSF to see how Intermodal might be able to help you with your transportation requirements.

Your network is primarily west of the Mississippi River. Does BNSF Intermodal reach eastern markets?

BNSF can help you reach all Eastern markets by partnering with major eastern rail carriers via interline relationships. Your freight can be moved across rail networks beyond the BNSF rail infrastructure, the shipment process is still simple and seamless for the shipper. To learn more, contact BNSF.

How do I get set up to ship intermodal?

BNSF can help you reach all Eastern markets by partnering with major eastern rail carriers via interline relationships. Your freight can be moved across rail networks beyond the BNSF rail infrastructure, the shipment process is still simple and seamless for the shipper. To learn more, contact BNSF.

Shipper Questions

Why should I ship intermodal?

Intermodal service provides a more economical, environmentally friendly transportation solution that reliably delivers your shipments at speeds that are competitive with over-the-road options.

Why BNSF intermodal?

BNSF Railway is the world's leading intermodal provider and Intermodal is the largest segment at BNSF. BNSF consistently delivers intermodal solutions that meet shipper's needs worldwide. In fact, 98% of the top 100 importers use BNSF Railway.

What is an asset-based intermodal model and what does it mean to me?

BNSF Railway partners with the industry's leading motor carriers for a comprehensive intermodal service plan. Through BNSF's asset-based model, these carriers provide the equipment for the intermodal moves, thus ensuring ample capacity even during peak periods.

Where does BNSF ship?

BNSF's rail network consists of 32,500 route miles in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. Through BNSF's Intermodal interline partnerships with other railroads, BNSF has the ability to access all North American markets, including East Coast markets. To find out how BNSF can help you reach existing markets and new markets, contact BNSF

I have very tight windows for delivery. How reliable is rail service?

BNSF's intermodal service continues to grow in popularity in large part due to reliable on-time performance that rivals on-time performance for over-the-road shipments. Many shippers have the confidence in intermodal to ship from distribution centers directly to their stores. Even the most service-sensitive shippers rely on BNSF Intermodal. The nation's top LTL, refrigerated and parcel carriers rely on BNSF intermodal solutions to nearly a million shipments each year – on-time and damage-free.

How does the transit time of BNSF’s intermodal service compare to over-the-road shipments?

BNSF recognizes that different kinds of freight have different requirements. As a result, BNSF Intermodal offers a range of service options designed to meet your specific needs. For example, a container can move on BNSF's Expedited service from Los Angeles to Chicago (ramp-to-ramp) in just 78 hours. For complete service schedules, click here.

What assurance can BNSF provide that my goods will arrive damage-free?

In conjunction with BNSF's carrier partners, BNSF goes to great lengths to ensure that your goods will arrive damage-free. Both BNSF's Intermodal carriers and the beneficial cargo shippers have access to BNSF's Load and Ride Solutions team, which provides methods to properly load and brace your freight in order to prevent damage. When adhering to industry best practices, you can be assured damage-free shipments are a norm and rival other modes of transportation.

I understand cost savings is a part of intermodal. How does BNSF calculate estimated cost savings?

Estimated cost savings is just one of the measured benefits that BNSF's Intermodal Advisor tool calculates. The Intermodal Advisor tool calculates estimated cost savings by comparing an average over-the-road truck rate against representative door-to-door intermodal rates for the specific lane(s) submitted.

How accurate are the savings estimates?

Over the years, BNSF has analyzed millions of lanes submitted using the Intermodal Advisor tool, and most shippers said their actual savings exceeded BNSF's estimated savings. Interested in learning how much you can save on an intermodal shipment in your specific lanes? Try BNSF's Intermodal Advisor tool. It's free. Or, for a more thorough analysis of your transportation portfolio, contact BNSF.

How can I find out whether a hazardous material is accepted or prohibited for shipment?

You can use this handy search tool to look up your commodity. In addition, to see other hazardous Intermodal shipment information, see the Prohibited Hazardous commodities.

Ocean Carrier Questions

What types of service levels does BNSF offer on international intermodal shipments?

With BNSF Intermodal, you get access to the broadest selection of reliable service offerings. So whether you desire greater speed or maximum savings, BNSF Intermodal has a shipping solution to meet your needs.

Where can I get rates to ship a 20- or 40-foot container?

BNSF partners with ocean carriers and international third parties that can provide rates for 20-foot or 40-foot containers. For more information, or to connect with a carrier that best suits your needs, contact BNSF.

What are your schedules?

BNSF offers a range of intermodal service offerings designed to fit your schedules. See estimated transportation and delivery times for BNSF's intermodal service.

Can you provide rates from the port to overseas destinations (i.e., Asia)?

BNSF partners with ocean carriers, who can provide rates to the final destination in Asia.

How do I get set up with BNSF to dray ocean containers to/from BNSF facilities?

You can work directly with the steamship lines to dray containers into and out of BNSF Intermodal facilities. For more information, or to connect with a carrier that best suits your needs, contact BNSF.


BNSF does not own containers. However, ocean carriers and international third parties can provide the equipment to use for international intermodal shipments. BNSF can help. Contact BNSF.