An index of U.S. intermodal rates fell more than $100 in the week ending Dec. 2, as all four directional indices decreased. The overall index rate of the top 36 U.S. lanes was down 5.1 percent, or $108, at $2,019, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS. This is the biggest drop in close to a year and the lowest rate since Aug. 19, 2013.
The top 12 and top 18 combined lanes, which include those serving Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, saw steep declines as well in the week of Dec. 2. The top 18 index fell $84 to $1,939, while the top 12 slipped $46 to $2,095.
“There is no question at this point. Peak is definitely behind us,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said. “The weighted intermodal index dropped this week, with many of the key Los Angeles and Chicago lanes dropping by as much as 15 to 20 percent from the prior week. There are also significant reductions in the rates from the prior year.”
West-east spot rates eroded 7.2 percent or $195 this week to $2,493. This is the fifth decline in seven weeks in this lane, and the steepest of them all. The current rate fell 0.5 percent below the level seen at the beginning of the year. Most eastbound lanes saw rates decline or remain flat this week. Los Angeles outbound lanes as well as Oakland-Chicago experienced double-digit drops, the largest in the Los Angeles-Miami lane, which fell 14.1 percent or $675 to $4,110.
The east-west index decreased 3.5 percent, or $62, to $1,711 in the week of Dec. 2. The current rate is 3.8 percent below the rate seen in the first week of 2013. Rates also declined or remained unchanged in almost all westbound lanes this week. The rate on the Chicago-Los Angeles lane saw the largest decrease: 16.4 percent, or $315, to $1,605.
North-south rates dropped 3.7 percent or $70 to $1,816 in the week ending Dec. 2. The current index is 8.8 percent below the rate at the beginning of 2013. Chicago-Dallas plummeted 19.0 percent or $475 to $2,020 this week.
Rates for south-north lanes declined 3.8 percent, or $70, this week. The index stood at $1,781. This is the only directional index to remain above the level seen in the first week of 2013; however, it is up by only 1.8 percent. The Los Angeles-Tacoma lane saw the biggest drop among the south-north lanes, falling 13.3 percent, or $405, to $2,630.