The overall U.S. intermodal index continued to inch down this week due to declines in three of the four main directional indices, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS. The overall index slipped 0.8 percent to $1,964, the fifth consecutive weekly drop.
East-west rates were the only directional index to show a slight increase. Rates stood at $1,746, up 0.03 percent or 56 cents in the week of May 13, following two weeks of declines. Most east-west lanes had rates that were flat or down marginally with the exception of Chicago-Los Angeles, which jumped 3.4 percent or $60 to $1,845. This week’s east-west rate is down 1.8 percent from the beginning of 2013.
North-south rates declined 2.3 percent or $44 to $1,880. The current index is 5.6 percent lower than it was at the beginning of 2013. Most north-south lanes saw declining rates this week, although two lanes in particular pulled down the overall rate. The spot rate for the New Jersey-Atlanta lane fell 4 percent or $40 this week to $950, while Seattle-Atlanta saw the largest drop of the week of 7.3 percent or $210 to $2,665.
West-east spot rates were down 0.8 percent or $20 to $2,325 from last week. This is the third consecutive week of decline in this lane. The current rate is 7.2 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. Individual trade lanes showed mostly downward shifts. The spot rate for Los Angeles-New Jersey fell 2.4 percent or $80 to $3,285.
South-north rates slid 0.4 percent or $6 to $1,689. They are down 3.5 percent from the beginning of the year. Individual northbound trade lanes saw marginal drops in rates; for example, Dallas-New Jersey inched down 0.2 percent or $5 to $2,255.
This week’s slight increase in diesel prices after a 10-week slump did not seem to affect intermodal rates.
“Markets seem to have their containers well positioned because we are not seeing much in the way of tightened capacity in key areas of the domestic intermodal network. We continue to see a big push for modal conversion from truckloads to intermodal by shippers, even as fuel is down at its lowest point in almost a year. This is something we typically don’t see,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said.