The average U.S. intermodal rate rose for a second straight week, 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 0.8 percent or $17 this week to $2,083, yielding a cumulative increase of $51 over the past two weeks.
The top 12 and top 18 combined lanes, which include those serving Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, saw larger increases than the overall 36-lane index this week. The top 18 index gained $26 to reach $1,979, while the top 12 jumped $40 to $2,164.
“As for this week and the index, the story is all Southern California and Northern California,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said. “The California rates are still lower than where they were at this same time last year, but we continue to see them increase. At the current pace, we’re expecting mid-October to be where rates and capacity will peak out and hold for a short period. As we learned from FTR Associates last week at the Journal of Commerce Inland Conference, peak is still an issue, but has become lessening each year as domestic intermodal becomes more of a strategic mode of transportation versus just a cheaper alternative to truckload.”
The east-west index saw rates inch down 0.2 percent, or $3, to $1,735. This is the third consecutive decline in this lane. The current rate is 2.5 percent below the rate seen in the first week of 2013. The individual Chicago-Oakland lane tumbled 11.1 percent, or $255, to $2,045, pulling down the whole westbound index.
West-east spot rates climbed for a second week, increasing 5.3 percent, or $135, from the week of Sept. 16, to $2,657. This was the largest week-to-week jump since one year ago during the week of Sept. 24. The current rate is now 6.1 percent higher than at the beginning of the year. Rates increased in the majority of lanes this week; the Los Angeles to Denver lane saw the most significant jump, rising 15.0 percent, or $445, to $3,415.
North-south rates decreased 2.3 percent, or $44, to $1,848 in the week of Sept. 23. The current index remains 7.2 percent below the rate at the beginning of 2013. Most individual southbound lanes were flat or down this week. The steepest decline was a $195 drop in the Seattle-Atlanta lane, slipping to $2,515.
Rates for south-north lanes fell 3.3 percent or $61 this week. The index stood at $1,786, up 2.0 percent from the first week of 2013. Atlanta to New Jersey climbed 12.1 percent, or $225, to $1,630; rates in most other south-north lanes remained unchanged or decreased from the week before.