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Questions to Ask a Rail-Car Unloading Company Before Hiring

Utility poles? Check. Transformers? Check. Rail-car unloading company? Hmmm.

As you prepare your checklist for your next utility project, don’t forget the rail-car unloading company. Without them, your materials would be stuck in the rail cars, and the project couldn’t start!

Rail-car unloading, also known as transloading, is the process of taking materials out of a rail car and placing them on a truck bed for transportation. It sounds relatively simple, but it’s tricky to find a good transloading provider.

Yes, there are several transloading companies you could choose from, but you need to find one that will provide quality service at an affordable price.

How can you find a good rail-car unloading company? You just need to ask some specific questions, and you should get all the information you need to choose an unloading company.

Don’t worry, these questions aren’t complicated, highly technical, or time-consuming. But they’re good at uncovering specifics and showing you just what kind of service a transloading provider will offer you.

What Rail-Car Unloading Experience Do You Have?

One of the most important questions to ask when choosing a rail car unloading company is about what unloading experience they have. You’ll want to find a company that has experience unloading your specific materials. With that experience, the company should know how to best unload the materials from the rail cars and how to safely stack them after unloading.

Look at the company’s years of experience for a general idea of how experienced they are with transloading. But for a better indication, ask how many times the company has transloaded your specific materials. That number will show you just how familiar the transloading provider is with your type of material and consequently how capable they are of unloading those materials.

How Do You Demonstrate a Commitment to Safety?

Rail car unloading is dangerous as the materials are large and heavy, and one mishap could severely damage equipment or critically injure a worker. Furthermore, if your transloading provider makes a careless mistake, your project could be delayed and you might become involved in a lawsuit.

To avoid these troubles, ensure that the transloading company is committed to safety. Ask them how they specifically practice safety when transloading to learn if the company is truly dedicated to safety or just claims to be. Good answers will probably include following proper safety protocols as these can significantly reduce the risk of equipment damage or worker injury.

Are You a Brokerage or an Asset-Based Company?

When hiring a transloading company, ask whether they are a brokerage company or an asset-based company. This difference will shape the service and communication you receive from your transloading provider.

A brokerage company will connect you with a provider who will unload your materials. They do not own their own equipment or hire equipment operators. Instead, they help the providers fill their schedules with your business. But brokers could add extra fees to the unloading costs, or they could connect you with an unreliable transloading provider. You have very little control over who actually unloads your materials.

However, an asset-based company owns their own equipment, and they’ll work directly with you to provide your rail car unloading service. You could communicate with the operators and give specific unloading instructions. Also, you’ll probably receive quality service because, unlike a brokerage company, an asset-based company’s business relies on its reputation for impeccable service.

It’s your choice what company you want to work with, but we recommend an asset-baed company for quality communication and reliable transloading.

How Much Will Unloading Cost?

Another question to ask is how much the unloading service will cost. Of course, that seems like an obvious question, but you never know if there will be hidden fees added to the original service cost. If you did not plan for these costs, they may throw off your project budget and force you to spend more than you can afford.

So, ask the transloading provider about their costs. Ask about any additional fees they may have as well to discover their real service cost. If they offer a price breakdown, you should look through it and see just how much they are charging you for each part of their service.

What Other Services Do You Offer?

Finally, the transloading provider may have other services they offer, so ask about those services. For example, some transloading companies also offer transportation services, which means you can accomplish two tasks with the same company. This will typically save you money, and it will certainly save you some hassle as you only have to coordinate your project efforts around one company instead of two.

Ask about Blackwood Resources

Once you ask a company all those questions, you should understand what quality of service they provide. This information enables you to choose a reliable unloading company and cross that item off your project to-do list.

Want to give these questions a try? Ask Blackwood Resources, a transloading provider.

We have experience transloading all different types of utility materials including poles, pilings, pipes, and transformers all across the United States. Since 2017, the utility industry has depended on us to be a trustworthy transloading provider, so you can know that we have the expertise and experience to safely transload your materials.

During our 5 years of experience, we have hired some of the best truck drivers and equipment operators—with track records of safety. We also have established safety protocols that can keep everyone safe and ensure the successful transloading of your materials.

As an asset-based company, we own specially designed trucks with cranes which we regularly maintain to provide safe service to you. These trucks also allow us to transport and unload your materials. So, we can get the materials out of the rail cars, transport them in our trucks, and unload them at your worksite! That’s three jobs with one provider.

Ready to see what Blackwood Resources can do for your project? Contact us at or 812-676-8770. We are ready to answer all your questions.



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