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Railroad Shipping Containers

Railroad shipping containers are standardized cargo containers used for transporting goods on railways. The history of railroad shipping containers can be traced back to the early 1950s when railway companies began using them to improve transport efficiency. Over time, the use of intermodal containers in intermodal transportation became increasingly common and has become an important component of modern rail networks in the global supply chain.

These containers have a specific size and weight to facilitate their use on different railway routes and by different railway companies. The standardized containers come in two footprint sizes: 20 feet and 40 feet. In this article, we will explore the cost and volume capacity of these containers, as well as methods for insulation and preventing condensation, whether shipping containers are waterproof, and how to properly ventilate them.

Cost and Volume Capacity

A regular forty-foot container is roughly twice the size of a 20-foot container, and as such, it's more expensive to purchase or rent. A new 20ft container can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, while a 40ft container can cost upwards of $6,000. However, these prices may vary depending on factors such as the condition of the container and the seller's location.

In terms of capacity, a standard 20-foot container can hold up to 1,170 cubic feet of cargo, while a 40-foot container can hold up to 2,350 cubic feet. This means that a 40ft container can carry almost twice as much cargo as a 20ft container, making it a more cost-effective option for larger shipments.


Shipping container jacks are made of steel, which can conduct heat and cold, making them prone to temperature fluctuations. This means that if you're shipping goods that require a specific temperature range, you'll need to insulate the container. Insulation can be added to the walls, ceiling, and floor of the container, either by attaching panels or spraying foam insulation. This will help to maintain a consistent temperature and protect the goods inside.


Condensation is another issue that can arise when shipping goods in a container. Moisture can build up inside the container, leading to mold, mildew, and rust. To prevent condensation, it's important to ensure that the container is properly ventilated. This can be done by adding vents or fans to the container's walls, which will allow air to circulate and prevent moisture buildup.


While shipping containers are made of steel and are generally water-resistant, they're not completely waterproof. Water can enter through gaps around the doors, ventilation holes, or any damage to the container's exterior. To prevent water damage to the goods inside, it's important to inspect the container for any leaks or damage before use. Additionally, adding weatherstripping around the doors can help to create a tighter seal and prevent water from entering.


Proper ventilation is very important for maintaining air quality and preventing moisture, rot, and mold in shipping containers. Ventilation can help control the temperature and humidity inside the container, keep the air flowing, and reduce moisture buildup. This is especially important for certain types of goods, such as food, medicine, and chemicals. In container ventilation, ventilation holes are generally set at the top and bottom of the container to take advantage of natural convection. Additionally, equipment such as ventilation fans or air dryers can be used to further maintain container ventilation.


In summary, railroad shipping containers are an efficient and cost-effective way to transport goods over long distances. Although they are made of steel, insulation, condensation prevention, waterproofing, and ventilation are crucial. With proper maintenance and upkeep from container shipping companies, shipping containers can provide a reliable and safe way of transporting goods across the world.

As a practitioner of the Belt and Road Initiative, Neptune Logistics has operated many intermodal transport projects with a professional team and rich experience, providing you with the best quality service, affordable price, and solving related logistics problems. If you want more details about railroad shipping containers in both China Railway and the global railway, feel free to contact us!

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