July 16, 2012 (RARC-WP-12-013)
The Postal Service has moved mail by rail since the beginning of the rail industry in the early 1800s. As the rail industry developed, advances in technology and infrastructure, including the very development of intermodal rail service, were closely tied to the movement of mail. Today, the Postal Service meets its surface transportation needs almost entirely by using trucks owned by highway contractors. However, it is widely accepted that rail is now far more economical than highway for long distance surface transportation, and intermodal rail has become the industry standard for long-distance shippers, including UPS and FedEx.
By increasing its use of intermodal rail, the Postal Service could save transportation costs and still meet existing service standards on many long distance lanes. The rail industry’s improved services, reduced exposure to fuel price volatility, environmental benefits, and long-term outlook can also protect the Postal Service from strategic risks posed by its sole reliance on the highway trucking industry for surface transportation. To read more about the strategic advantages of moving rail by mail, download the full report below.