Drayage is the process of transporting freight over a short distance, usually as part of the intermodal shipping process. This term is most commonly used in the container shipping industry and involves the trucking of containerized cargo from a port to a nearby warehouse or terminal.

Detailed Explanation

Drayage is a critical link in the chain of shipping, connecting the dots between larger transportation methods like ocean freight or rail and the final delivery point or next mode of transport.

It is typically performed by specialized drayage companies that manage the movement of cargo to and from ports, rail terminals, and shipping docks.

Efficient drayage operations are essential to minimize bottlenecks and delays in the supply chain, especially in congested port areas.


After a container ship docks at a port, a drayage service provider is contracted to move the containers from the ship to a nearby rail yard, where they will be loaded onto trains for cross-country transport.

A local drayage company transports a container from a port to a nearby warehouse where the goods are unpacked and prepared for final delivery to the customer.

Related Terms and Concepts:

Frequently asked questions about Drayage

What is the difference between drayage and trucking? Drayage specifically refers to short-distance hauls from ports, rail terminals, or harbors to nearby locations, while trucking can involve longer hauls over various distances.

Why is drayage important in shipping? Drayage services are crucial for moving goods efficiently between different transportation modes, helping to maintain the flow of a supply chain.

How is drayage cost calculated? Drayage costs can be based on various factors, including distance, container size, weight, and any additional services such as storage or chassis usage.

Can drayage be avoided in the shipping process? Drayage is often an unavoidable part of the intermodal shipping process, especially when goods need to be transferred between different transportation methods.

What challenges are associated with drayage? Challenges can include port congestion, chassis shortages, and regulatory compliance issues, all of which can lead to delays and increased costs.

How do companies choose a drayage provider? Companies typically select a drayage provider based on their reliability, speed, cost, and ability to handle specific cargo requirements.

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