Re: INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT report the True Cost of Gas
Not necessarily, I'm just pointing-out that there are other costs to rail besides the direct shipping-charges.
To handle more than one or two cars, you have to have your own spur - at roughly $100k per 1/4-mile of track, that is a BIG up-front cost - before you ever receive your first car (not to mention the cost of the LAND you have to obtain before you can set the track.........). With most bulk-users (such as a large feed mill) having a 4-7 mile-long spur, it adds up quickly.
If somebody has already absorbed the up-front costs - great, good for them. But how are you going to distribute from your rail-terminal to each of your locations (assuming that you're not the end-user at the terminal location)?
Who's going to unload the boxcars, and then warehouse your goods, then break them up and re-load them on a truck for distribution? That stuff doesn't move itself around.
Not to mention this takes TIME to process this stuff.
As much as I detest Mal~Wart, I have to admit they certainly have a handle on cross-docking operations, and Just-In-Time warehousing and distribution operations. Their biggest reason for their success is this, and this alone - let your supplier be your warehouse, and send your order of 10,000,000 left-handed widgets to you one bite at a time.