TRAC Intermodal is shifting chassis into the Chicago market to counteract a disruption slowing down rail-to-truck cargo movement this winter.
Trucking and logistics executives have told JOC.com about delays at the Canadian National ramp in Harvey, Illinois, and provided scattered complaints about Union Pacific and BNSF Logistics Park Chicago.
To combat these slowdowns, TRAC already added 400 chassis this year and will inject another 1,500 into the Chicago-Ohio Valley market within three months, the company said. Last year, TRAC added 2,100 chassis to the region.
“TRAC believes these shortages are caused by a combination of unprecedented freight volumes in the region, extended street dwells, and the impact of a winter storm,” the company said in a statement to JOC.com.
Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI) reallocated 450 chassis from the south Atlantic and Northeast and will transfer about 1,600 in total into the Midwest, supplementing the current pool of about 13,000 chassis.
“The trains are not running on time right now and if you’ve got them running behind it’s hard to make projections on when to move chassis in and have them ready. So we’ve seen a lot of dislocation of equipment in Chicago,” DCLI chief operating officer Ron Joseph told JOC.com on Feb. 26. “The dislocation is greater than we usually see in the Chicago market right now.”
TRAC also provided a list of steps under way to alleviate the logjams in the Windy City. They include increasing chassis repair capacity in the Chicago Service Center to quickly fix and return units into service, and deploying mobile service vehicles when truckers incur breakdowns on the road.
TRAC said it is also working with the ocean carriers and customers to expedite returns and reuse chassis on multiple runs rather than swapping one unit for another. Many ocean carriers sign exclusive chassis contracts that force truckers on store-door deliveries to use a specific equipment provider. As a result, sometimes truckers must switch chassis mid-run based on these contracts.
“TRAC believes it will take some time for chassis to be returned to the rail terminals and made available to handle the influx of freight. TRAC is working in close coordination with its rail partners and stakeholders in the region to provide assistance where it can,” the company said.