Rail & Intermodal

Weekly wrap-up for Aug. 23, 2014
In the latest instance of drayage-related disruption, violence flared at Ningbo’s Beilun Container Port as thousands of striking truck drivers clashed with riot police and smashed the windshields of trucks crossing a picket line. The past week’s protests brought the world’s sixth-largest container port to a standstill, with carriers reportedly diverting ships.

A Federal appeals court in Pasadena shot down a novel legal challenge to railyard emissions that if successful would have erected a roadblock to a proposed Burlington Northern Santa Fe intermodal railyard near the Port of Los Angeles.

Intermodal train
The U.S. rail regulatory agency is asking the seven major U.S. and Canadian railroads, along with short lines, to explain how they will handle the expected surge of intermodal traffic, noting the situation has been “challenging.”

North American truckload and intermodal freight rates trended higher in July, when truck tonnage rose more sharply than expected, buoyed by industrial output, imports and automotive shipping.

International intermodal volume growth in North America in in July slowed from the month before, but the gains were still healthy, and a robust forecast for U.S. maritime imports for this month suggest the shipment of marine containers could kick into a higher gear.

Changing supply chains demand changing technology, and a more multimodal, integrated supply chain require a blend of asset- and non-asset-based transportation systems.

U.S. Class I railroads are betting on tighter truck capacity, along with a surge of intermodal traffic, to allow them to kick domestic intermodal rate hikes into a higher gear.

BNSF Alliance intermodal center
Distribution centers and manufacturing plants are increasingly springing up around U.S. intermodal terminals, as shippers aim to reduce drayage costs and overall tightening truck capacity fuels intermodal volume growth.

BNSF locomotive
BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway say they are steadily reducing a backlog of grain shipments, but agricultural shippers warn the true test of whether they can handle the upcoming harvest will come quickly, in a week or two.

Weekly wrap-up for Aug. 16, 2014
Diversions related to the ongoing negotiations on the U.S. West Coast between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association continue to have an impact elsewhere.