Railway business and train type definitions take on different marketing meanings in the context of the North American business model.
Premium intermodal trains carry very high value merchandise like on a United Parcel Service intermodal run where train distance covered could be about 900 to 1,000 miles a day with 98% train on time performance.
“Expedited” intermodal service might averages about 700 to 800 miles per day at 95% plus or minus delivery. The price per container mike is a bit cheaper.
“Standard” intermodal trains might average about 500 to 600 miles per day at 93% or so on time arrival.
Wholesale intermodal operation trains might average 400 or so miles a day with delivery at unloading intermodal terminal at a 90% or so reliability. Here the rail charged price per container mile is about the lowest rate.
US rail intermodal train rates are unregulated. The lowest recent price to move a 53-ft long container one mile can be as little as $1 to $1.20 a mile when using big train double stack rail technology. The over the highway trucking costs can be as high as $2 to $2.40 a mile.
Trucking over the road is growing at about the U.S. GDP annual rate. DOUBLESTACK rail intermodal is growing at about TWICE the US GDP rate.
Internationally, few railroads can equal the returns of the North American rail intermodal business model. Technology, engineering, and market approach are the strategic differences.