2013 Annual Review & Outlook - Rail & Intermodal

No mode of freight transportation manages its network better than the railroad industry. Flush with profits, the six Class I railroads – BNSF Railway, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific Railroad – consistently pour millions of dollars into their infrastructure annually. 2012, however, marked a bit of a change as markets softened, especially on the international side of the business as growth in U.S. imports weakened considerably. Domestic business likewise suffered, especially late in the year as the impact of the severe drought in the Midwest hurt grain shipments and demand for coal, the industry's largest commodity, slipped.

But the industry's model is strong, and products such as fracking materials are creating new opportunities. And with more shippers looking to build on their sustainability initiatives, the rail industry – the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation – is picking up business from traditional trucking markets. 

Index of all Annual Review & Outlook comments, alphabetical by company

Intermodal transportation will be in focus during the new JOC Inland Distribution Conference, which will take place in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 18-19, 2013, with keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies featuring shippers and supply chain partners discussing how they overcame challenges related to intermodal shipping.

Commentary

James Welch knows a thing or two about business. So when the CEO of trucking operator YRC Worldwide and architect of the largest corporate turnaround in recent memory delivers a message like he did recently to his staff, shippers and carriers of all types should take notice.

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