Industry News & Tips

Tonnage Comparisons

March 08, 2008

Gene Horton


I’m sure many of you have seen the commercial on television extolling the advantages of rail shipping. In the advertisement the advertiser makes the point that railroads can carry a ton of freight four hundred and twenty miles on a gallon of fuel. That is very impressive compared to motor-truck.However I thought it would be fun to put out some factoids from some of the trade magazines I subscribe to. So here we go. 

A tanker trade group states that a VLCC, (very large crude carrier) moves one metric ton of cargo 2,800 kilometers on one liter of fuel. The carbon footprint (in CO2 per ton-kilometer) is less than one tenth of a heavy truck and less than one hundredth of an aircraft. 

A large freight aircraft can carry up to one hundred fifty tons of cargo.The lifting capacity of the cranes on some heavy lift ships is now four hundred tons.  

Another inland waterways group points out that one tug and barge or barges can carry as much cargo as sixty four to four hundred tractor trailers. 

The ship “Estelle Mearsk” is thirteen hundred feet long and carries eleven thousand containers. That is the equivalent of a freight train forty three miles long. The average long haul freight train is now eight thousand feet long or about a mile and one half.

The amount of money spent on highways and roads infrastructure is thirty nine billion dollars. The amount spent on maritime infrastructure, four hundred forty six million dollars. Europe and other countries are way ahead of the United States in “short sea transport”. There is finally some movement in our government to expand short sea transport up and down our Atlantic and Pacific coasts and inland waterways. Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on our highway infrastructure, ease traffic congestion and improve traffic safety. The next time you’re on the highway count the number of tractor trailers that can be put on one ship or barge. If you have any interesting facts on the maritime industry please pass them on.

Thanks for your support,

Gene Horton