An Expert Drayage Team in the City of Chicago Since 1867!
The term "piggyback", in the trucking industry, comes from the past days when railroads required each trailer to be backed up, one at a time, "circus -style" onto the railcars. (There were no cranes to lift off the trailers. And circus-style originates from the circus and how they conducted their operations.) "Piggyback" basically means a truck trailer on a train. The terms "rail pig" and "intermodal" share the same meaning. There were bridge plates between each train car that allowed the trucks to cross. Jim Pacella, President of Cushing Trans, remembers when the yard jockeys (spotters) would drive in reverse on the rails, almost a city block in length, to get the load on the traincar. Some yard jockeys were so good at the job that they had their gas pedals pressed to the floor while backing up on the railcars, making no errors! This was an amazing feat as the job required significant skill.
We still use the phrase "piggyback" today, but the technique to achieve it has changed! The intermodal industry was starting to boom in the 1970's and so the terms "TOFC" and "COFC" were born. There was a need for trailers/containers to be loaded faster onto the train. "Trailer On Flat Car" & "Container On Flat Car" replaced the circus style loading from when spotters used to hurriedly drive backwards to load the long cuts of traincars. Now, overhead cranes replaced this method by removing the trailers/containers from the actual truck and placing the unit (the trailer or container) directly on the railcar. This proved to be more efficient and safe. But of course, history tells us that the growth and revelance of the industry would once again create a change for Intermodal.
As early as the 1860's saw the "piggyback" technique for freight movement. By the 1970's, freight movement expanded to cranes. When that wasn't enough, the "sky bridge" crane was developed. It streamlined and maximized the Intermodal operating system in rail yards and shipping yards all around the world.
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