U.S. west-east intermodal rates fell again in the week of April 15 to $2,405, extending the decline to five straight weeks, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS.
West-east spot rates inched down 0.1 percent or $3 this week and are currently 4 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. In the past five weeks, rates have dropped almost 3 percent or $73. So far this year, 12 of 16 weeks have experienced week-to-week declines. The spot rate for Los Angeles-Denver fell the most among east-west lanes, by 2.5 percent or $70 to $2,745.
The overall index was down this week after a brief increase the week before. The index fell 0.5 percent or $10.28 to $2,028, putting the spot rate down 2 percent since the beginning of 2013.
East-west rates remained flat this week at $1,792. East-west individual trade lanes showed large variances. The largest increase was in the Chicago-Los Angeles lane, which rose 11.4 percent or $190 to $1,850. The largest decrease was in the Chicago-Denver lane, which fell by 8 percent or $225 to $2,600. This lane increased $215 last week; this week’s drop put it below where it stood before this jump. The current east-west index is up 0.7 percent since the beginning of 2013 and is the only directional index that remains above where it was on January 1.
North-south rates were down 2.9 percent or $59 to $1,954. The current index for this trade lane is 1.9 percent lower than it was at the beginning of the year. One trade lane, in particular, pulled the index down: Chicago-Dallas plummeted 18.8 percent or $480 to $2,070. This trade lane experienced a $475 jump last week that was eliminated by this week’s fall.
South-north rates showed the week’s only increase, edging up 0.4 percent or $7 to $1,736. This rate is 0.8 percent lower than it was at the beginning of 2013. A significant increase in this lane was Atlanta-Chicago, whose price increased by 3.4 percent or $30 to $920.
“While there has not been a lot of change in the rates, we continue to see a great deal of activity within the shipper community looking more and more to converting their truck traffic over to intermodal. Typically we see this type of activity when fuel spikes, but the people we are talking to appear to be making a more proactive approach to modal conversion and not making their decisions out of an immediate necessity,” said IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore. Diesel prices fell again this week, extending their slump to seven weeks.