New Thoughts on Intermodal

New Thoughts on Intermodal

Copyright 2002, Traffic World Magazine

We wanted to respond to Brian Bowers' commentary on intermodal in the July 8 issue ("Changing the Train of Thought"). At Stonier Transportation Group, we couldn't agree more that it is time to "change the train of thought" regarding truck-rail-truck transportation.

In the 1990s, intermodal unfairly took a bad rap for slow delivery performance in many areas of the country. Shippers who experienced subpar service were quick to point fingers at the use of multiple modes rather than at the real culprit: railroad mergers. The highly publicized railroad mergers of that decade caused a decline in service that took years for the industry to recover from.

But those days have since past and the industry is stronger than ever. Truck-rail-truck transportation is more cost-effective than truck alone, transit times are often similar to trucking and delivery reliability is high on most traffic lanes.

As a testament to our faith in the future of intermodal, we've built our company's growth plans around the use of intermodal as a key service offering for our customers. Earlier this year, we began partnering with major Class 1 railroads to offer customers a single-source service that includes railhead drayage at origin, premium rail equipment for the long-haul move and railhead drayage at destination. The service uses a single bill of lading at an all-inclusive rate that offers the customer simplified ZIP-code pricing based on seasonality. Our rates are directional and driven by operating capacity of the railroads. Since putting this program in place, we're consistently seeing on-time delivery performance of 95 percent or greater.

It's clearly time to change the train of thought on intermodal.

Thomas W. Piatak

President and

Chief Operating Officer

Stonier Transportation Group