A comparative analysis of the fuel used and engine technologies deployed by each of the modes (truck, rail and ship) showed that marine vessels were able to carry one tonne of cargo significantly farther on one liter of fuel than both rail and trucks.

Figure ES2. Energy Efficiency Comparsion

The largest Great Lakes vessels, typically 1,000 feet in length, can carry 62,000 tons of cargo - equivalent to 2,340 trucks or 564 rail cars. 

If the total cargo transported by the Combined Great Lakes-Seaway Fleet in 2010 was instead transported by truck, 7.1 million additional truck trips would be required in the Great Lakes region.

Figure ES7. To move 30,000 tonnes of cargo with a Seaway-size vessel

The noise impacts of trains are a combination of the noise from air horns blown on approach to public highway-railway, at-grade crossings and the noise from movement of trains that occurs everywhere. In the case of trucks, it is primarily the noise associated with the freeway and arterial highway systems. 

The noise footprint of the Great Lakes-Seaway Fleet is associated with the sounding of horns when vessels meet and when mooring lines are dropped in preparation for departure from locks and ports. 

The noise footprint of the Combined Great Lakes-Seaway fleet is negligible in comparison with that of the other modes.

The noise footprint for the rail and truck modes would increase by 40% if either mode were to transport the Great Lakes-Seaway cargo. 

Figure ES9. Modal Noise Footprint Comparisons