Intermodal Shipping

Intermodal Shipping

News, data and analysis of the various factors that are driving the continued expansion of intermodal shipping activity around the globe.

Steady growth in the number of road freight carriers is leading to greater traffic congestion and costly delays in the delivery of goods to end-users in business and consumer markets. Governments and regulatory bodies are introducing costly, stringent regulations to reduce vehicle emissions. Intermodal infrastructures are improving, along with other advances in technology for managing complex supply chains that operate across various modes of transportation.

All of those factors are compelling many companies to use an intermodal combination of sea, road and railways to transport their goods on longer routes, rather than depend on a single mode of transportation. The cost-reduction benefits are significant for shippers, buyers, freight forwarders and other stakeholders in the supply chain.





What does the term “Industry 4.0” mean for logistics and supply chains? Logistics 4.0 has recently emerged as a move to smart transportation and logistics, enhanced sales and operations planning, and dynamic logistics network configuration.

News & Analysis

08 May 2019
Historically, intermodal rail has offered a slower, lower-cost option for shippers, but with truckload prices falling, intermodal rail is now more expensive than trucking in some secondary markets.
03 May 2019
Union Pacific Railroad will be closing the Global III terminal northwest of Chicago as part of its precision scheduled railroading operations in a shakeup that will send domestic intermodal volumes to Global II and international traffic to Global IV.
Top 50 Trucking Companies 2018
22 Apr 2019
The 50 largest US trucking operators grabbed a larger share of the market, while smaller carriers raised the bar in terms of revenue growth last year thanks to the strongest freight market since the 2009 recession.
18 Apr 2019
Slowing international growth and declining domestic volume in the first quarter point to the worst performance in intermodal since the freight recession ended in late 2016.
17 Apr 2019
Intermodal volume will be down for many of the Class I railroads and trucking companies providing intermodal service, and although weather is an excuse, larger questions remain about the sector in the short and long term.
11 Apr 2019
North American intermodal volume ended the first quarter worse than initially forecast due to changing shipping patterns and flooding in the Midwest, but there are signs that this is an inflection point to a difficult 2019 and not a fleeting blip.
04 Apr 2019
With cross-border freight already delayed and logistics costs rising, businesses must plan for a potential closure of the US-Mexico border threatened by President Trump.
04 Apr 2019
After a nationwide trucker strike last May, transportation providers like Maersk and Brazilian railroad Brado are taking a multimodal approach to avoid becoming overly dependent on a volatile trucking market.
28 Mar 2019
Domestic intermodal volume will decline on a quarterly basis for the first time since 2016 to begin this year, but it’s still unclear whether the drop in shipments is a worrisome trend or a result of comparisons to an extraordinary 2018.
25 Mar 2019
Although the 2018 imports and intermodal shipments were inflated somewhat due to the tariffs, the 10-year trend has been increased transloading of imports to domestic containers in Southern California.
Ari Ashe, associate editor
25 Mar 2019
Ari Ashe, associate editor, JOC
Ari Ashe, associate editor
18 Mar 2019
Ari Ashe, associate editor,, discusses his outlook for intermodal fluidity in 2019, following a challenging 2018 where intermodal volume grew more than anticipated.
15 Mar 2019
Should shipment volumes of privately owned domestic containers continue to outpace those of rail-owned units, it will have major implications for the future of non-asset intermodal retailers.
11 Mar 2019
Two projects will add more than 28,000 square feet of new track inside the US East Coast's largest port, most of which will be used to store empty rail cars and build trains.
05 Mar 2019
The state has revived a project to raise the ceiling of CSX's Howard Street Tunnel to and from the Port of Baltimore in an effort to attract more Midwest cargo.
04 Feb 2019
Trucking operator Schneider National is evolving to meet increased shipper expectations by harnessing new technology, adapting to new customer requirements, and focusing on higher productivity.
01 Feb 2019
The US economy won't run off the road this year, but keep an eye on trade, tariffs, and 2020, economists say at SMC3's Jump Start 2019 event.
An intermodal train travels in the United States.
14 Jan 2019
Class I railroads face uncertainty in global trade, as well challenges in service and pricing, to keep momentum going in 2019.
An intermodal train in the United States.
08 Jan 2019
If price is how intermodal separates itself from trucking, railroads should think hard about rates.
Trucks travel on a US highway.
16 Nov 2018
Higher freight volumes and shipper spending reported by the Cass Freight Index show that while the US economy may be expanding more slowly in late 2018, it is not on the verge of a contraction.
19 Oct 2018
The new Amsterdam link will provide greater service resilience for the Netherlands-Italy rail option, as the connections to the two Dutch ports will run on different routes, enabling a flexible response to any rail-related or port-related delays, according to Samskip UK trade manager David Besseling.
16 Jul 2018
US shippers are desperate for surface capacity and turning to modes they previously shunned as a result.
Dallas skyline.
29 May 2018
Integra, founded in 2003, has offices in Houston, Dallas, and Chicago and is also an intermodal marketing company and third-party logistics provider.
A freight train travels in Illinois, United States.
24 May 2018
The United States is early in trucking’s “new normal” era, but what is already clear is this: shippers will have to use all options — whether truckload, intermodal rail, less-than-truckload, or even package van — if they want to secure surface transportation capacity.
Intermodal rail in California.
24 May 2018
Railroads are no longer taking on new contracts for peak domestic intermodal business later this year out of Southern California. And that means small-size and mid-size shippers will likely be hurt the most because they don’t have the necessary volume to gain leverage in negotiations; they will be forced to supplement any truckload serve with record-high spot rates on the rails.
A warehouse in the United States.
15 Mar 2018
Have freight forwarders and transportation companies heard the “wake up call” of the fourth industrial revolution — one that will transform supply chains? The world has changed and the evidence argues it is time to invest in technology and people development.
06 Mar 2018
RoadOne has been buying regional drayage providers to add experience to its team and ensure compliance with strict electronic logging device hours-of-service rules and clean truck standards at marine ports.
A truck chassis in the US.
01 Mar 2018
TRAC Intermodal has moved 400 chassis into Chicago and plans to move another 1,500 over the next three months to help alleviate the backlog of containers.
17 Jan 2018
The complex rate on rail services between China and Europe has encouraged greater use of service contracts by shippers using the land option.
11 Dec 2017
Russian officials expect internet-based cargo bookings to account for up to 10 percent of bookings, perhaps more, in three years.
07 Nov 2017
Based on “back-of-the-envelope” analysis, the capacity of the domestic container fleet was slightly lower this year than during the peak month of November last year.
07 Nov 2017
A survey of shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) shows broad agreement truck capacity is getting tighter, but the LSPs expect rates to rise higher next year than shippers anticipate. Electronic logging devices may be a reason.
02 Nov 2017
E-commerce is accelerating, underpinning an uptick in global trade and US economic growth, XPO's Jacobs said.
01 Nov 2017
As intermodal rail container and trailer volumes hit historic highs, pressure, that may lift pricing in 2018 and beyond, is building.
27 Oct 2017
Third-quarter earnings reports reveal across-the-board increases in transportation rates, with little sign pressure will ease soon.