U.S. intermodal rates increased for a second straight week in the week of Sept. 2, pulling the average up to a 90-day high, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS. The overall rate increased $14 this week and a total of $25 during the past two weeks to reach $2,034.
“While we see the rates at their 90-day peak, we expect the increases to occur over the month of September,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said. “As compared to the same week last year, we are still below the prior rates. Some of this is fuel driven with the average diesel price being 3.8 percent lower than last year, but some of the lanes are even lower than 3.8 percent over the prior year.” Diesel prices jumped 6.8 cents this week but remain down 3.5 percent year-over-year.
The top 12 and top 18 combined lanes, which include the big-city lanes serving Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, saw increases as well, although the index for the top 18 lanes rose by roughly half the amount of the other indices. The top 18 index rose to $1,939, up $7.50, while the top 12 climbed roughly $13 to $2,109.
East-west rates went up 2 percent, or $35, to $1,784 in the week of Sept. 2, the second consecutive week of increases following four straight weeks of decreasing rates in this direction. The current rate is 0.3 percent above the rate seen in the first week of 2013. Westbound lanes saw big jumps in two Los Angeles-bound lanes: Chicago-Los Angeles climbed 6.4 percent, or $105, to $1,755, and New Jersey-Los Angeles soared 10.6 percent, or $200, to $2,090.
West-east spot rates fell this week, slipping 1.6 percent, or $39, to $2,393. This was the steepest weekly drop in this lane in 18 weeks. The current rate is 4.5 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. Chicago-New Jersey had the largest drop: 9.1 percent, or $145, to $1,445.
North-south rates increased 1.0 percent, or $19, to $1,900 in the week of Sept. 2. The current index remains 4.6 percent below the rate at the beginning of 2013. Most individual southbound trade lanes remained flat, except New Jersey to Dallas which increased 7.5 percent or $135 to $1,945, pulling the directional index up.
Rates for south-north lanes jumped 4.2 percent or $74 this week. The index stood $1,839, up 5.1 percent from the first week of 2013. Rates from Los Angeles to Tacoma soared 22.2 percent, or $535, to $2,950; all other south-north lanes slipped or remained unchanged from the week before.