U.S. intermodal rates for shipments east-to-west and west-to-east increased slightly this week, although a larger drop in the south-north index kept the overall U.S. index — now at $1,978,61 — down 14 cents below where it stood last week, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS. The top 12 and top 18 combined lanes, which include the big city lanes of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, saw mixed week-to-week changes. The top 12 saw a jump of more than $8 to $2,071.67, while the top 18 fell $2.78 to $1,896.67. Rate declines were the largest on the outbound Chicago lanes to Dallas and Oakland, dragging down the top 18.
“The increases in the Atlanta market were offset by the decreases in the Chicago market. We’re starting to see some capacity issues in key lanes for the various railroads key to door-to-door, although the rates are still very low in comparison to peak times of the year. At the same time, we are seeing some markets flush with containers. Examples include Portland, Seattle and Northern California. With some of the key domestic intermodal lanes becoming tight on various days throughout a given week, we’re expecting to see spot prices move up in the next few weeks as peak starts to enter into conversations,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said.
East-west rates inched up 0.4 percent or $6.67 to $1,783 in the week of June 10, the fourth consecutive week of increases in this direction. This boosted the rate above that of the first week of 2013 for the first time in six weeks. It is currently up 0.2 percent. Most east-west lanes experienced increases of less than 1 percent this week. Dallas-Los Angeles had the biggest increase of the week: 3.8 percent or $40, to $1,085. New Jersey-Chicago was the only indexed lane in this direction to show a decline: down 0.6 percent or $5 to $885.
West-east spot rates increased 0.3 percent or $7, which was the same amount of increase as the previous week, putting the rate at $2,334. The current rate is 6.8 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. Like east-west lanes, the majority of individual trade lanes saw slight increases. Los Angeles-Chicago saw the largest jump this week, up 1.8 percent or $40 to $2,245, while the only decline was a 0.2 percent or $5 drop to $2,910 in the Los Angeles-Atlanta lane.
North-south rates remained mostly flat, down 71 cents from last week, at $1,879. This put southbound rates at their lowest since mid-December 2012. The current index remains 5.6 percent below the rate at the beginning of 2013. Most north-south lanes remained flat or experienced minor ups and downs. New Jersey-Dallas experienced the largest increase of only 0.3 percent or $5 to reach $1,910.
South-north rates fell 1.2 percent or $21 to $1,700, after climbing $27 last week and $15 two weeks ago. The current rate is down roughly 3 percent from the beginning of the year. Individual northbound trade lanes mostly showed little change, with the exception of the Dallas-Chicago lane, which pulled down the overall directional average when it fell 14.7 percent or $155 to $900.
“Great pricing on domestic intermodal lanes heading east out of Seattle and/or Portland,” IDS tweeted recently. This can be seen in the rate declines in certain lanes since the beginning of 2013. An example is that of Seattle-Atlanta, which has seen rates drop $310 from $2,970 to $2,660 since the first week of 2013.
Diesel prices fell 0.5 percent or 2 cents this week, seeing a third week of declines and week-to-week drops in all U.S. regions.