Rail is 4 times more expensive than by sea. Air is at least 6 times more expensive than rail, but can be even 18 times more expensive if payload is heavy.
Cost of shipping 40′ HC container:
- by sea: $1,600
- by train: $6,800
- by air, light, so you pay for volume: 4.6 USD / kg, 40 ft got volume 67.7 m3 * 143 kg / m3 ~= 9 tons, $41,400
- by air, heavy, so you pay for real weight: 4.6 USD / kg, 40tf can be 27tons, $124,200
Shanghai <-> Gdynia, Poland: http://www.transportchiny.pl/ceny_transportu_z_chin.php
Shanghai <–> Małaszewicze, Poland
Excuse me for non-English links, but that was the easiest what I can find.
- Air cargo - 0.8063 kg of CO2 per Ton-Mile
- Truck - 0.1693 kg of CO2 per Ton-Mile
- Train - 0.1048 kg of CO2 per Ton-Mile
- Sea freight - 0.0403 kg of CO2 per Ton-Mile
So I see this competing with air freight, not sea.
Some regulators might start offering incentives in that regard though.
No-one I know in logistics is very worried about cost per container, especially with the massive over capacity in shipping.
When the iPhone launched they brought them by 747, I think this train would have been a viable option.
*There's a northern route that is only open for a portion of the year.
I'd think the drag of ships in water vs rail in air would also be far, far greater, but I've never taking fluid mechanics and trains do move a lot faster.
Then again one ship can carry as much as 50 trains or so?
Drag is indeed huge, but so are the ships.
One interesting thing about ships is that drag depends heavily on speed. If fuel efficiency becomes a greater concern, they can go a bit slower to compensate. Of course, that increases other costs....
I know a recreational motorboat is less efficient than a car by a lot, but...scaling.
Oh engineering with so many trade-offs and sad realities. I'm glad I work in a field of rediculous low-hanging fruit.
Produce more CO2
Increase Global Warming
Everything is covered by water