Rail & Intermodal

Canadian National Railway on Thursday announced plans to invest US$400 million into infrastructure improvements in its Western Canada feeder rail lines.

Shippers’ frustration with West Coast port congestion might end up delivering more international intermodal volume growth to CSX Transportation over the coming years, but clogged marine terminals on the opposing coast dragged its total intermodal traffic growth to a crawl in the first quarter.

The truck driver shortage was supposed to push freight from the highways to intermodal rail, but now that shortage may be the biggest threat to intermodal growth. Drayage truck drivers are increasingly hard to find, and that hurts intermodal service even when trains run on time, speakers at the NASSTRAC Shippers Conference said.

CSX Transportation profit in the first quarter rose 11 percent year-over-year to $442 million, as strong pricing power helped offset weak intermodal volume growth. Revenue in first three months of year was flat at $3 billion compared to the same period a year ago.

Stronger pricing, better equipment utilization and strong intermodal growth helped lift the Arkansas-based carrier's fiscal first quarter profit to $91.9 million.

BNSF Railway on Thursday trumpeted reports of significantly improved intermodal service and performance metrics since rail service hit new lows last year, thanks to a harsh winter and an unrelenting surge of freight.

Cold Train
Former executives at a defunct refrigerated rail service have filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit against BNSF Railway, alleging the railroad’s failing service reliability and shirking of professional commitments drove the company out of business.

Domestic interline service EMP, Norfolk Southern
Shippers’ diversion of imports to the U.S. East Coast to avoid West Coast port congestion has caused an imbalance in domestic intermodal equipment, spurring Norfolk Southern Railway to implement a $500 surcharge on westbound domestic intermodal shipments interchanged with Union Pacific Railroad.

Fesco Transportation Group’s profit soared 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, but the weak ruble and lower rail freight rates dragged down the full-year result.

Terminal operators and equipment managers on the West Coast intend to form a discussion agreement that will allow them to work with industry stakeholders such as shipping lines, motor carriers and railroads to reduce congestion and improve cargo velocity.