Surface

The Journal of Commerce’s surface transport news and analysis focuses on landside transport movement — from railroad news to trucking news — including full load trucking, less-than-truckload (LTL), refrigerated (or reefer) trucking, flatbed and domestic and international intermodal rail, and how it connects with seaports, inland rail hubs, distribution centers and transloading operations. Reporting on the surface transport sector covers the movement of domestic shipments within the United States and international cargoes transported via domestic equipment including trailers and 53-foot containers. 

The latest Surface News & Analysis

Bipartisan Senate vote ends threat of US rail strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The Senate measure ends the threat of a country-wide rail strike that could have begun Dec. 9, crippling cargo movement in the midst of the holiday season.
North-American rail

US truckload spot rates sag in November in atypical move

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Several US truckload shippers say they are leery of using the spot market because they wish to maintain strong relationships with their trucking partners rather than be seen as transactional when the market flips in favor of carriers.
Truckload

House takes action to avert crippling US rail strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The US House of Representatives has waded into ongoing rail negotiations, passing a bill to prevent a potential strike and a second resolution that would give workers seven paid sick days.
North-American railNorth American ports

Rail shippers confident Congress will avert strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Trade groups representing railroads and shippers are confident Congress will act to prevent a potential strike in December, but that is not stopping them from discussing the stakes involved.
North-American rail

Top unions split on tentative agreement with US rails

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Lawmakers in Washington will face pressure to bridge the divide between rail labor and management because any job action could snarl supply chains in the weeks leading up to end-of-year holidays.
North-American rail

UP to lift demurrage caps at seven inland terminals

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific Railroad will no longer cap storage fees at seven inland ramps beginning next week, citing declining import volumes on the West Coast that has restored more typical cargo flow.
North-American rail

UP battling box congestion at Chicago, Dallas terminals

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
UP is navigating congestion as ocean containers pile up in stacks in Chicago and Dallas, but the western US railroad believes it will clear the backlog at both terminals before the end of the year.
North-American rail

US truckload pricing index falls, but LTL goes flat

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The US producer price indexes for long-distance truckload and less-than-truckload took separate routes in October, with LTL pricing essentially unchanged and the truckload index falling.
LTLTrucking News

Truckload volatility prompts fresh investment in pricing startup

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Greenscreens.ai has seen its roster of truckload broker customers grow to 70 this year, with previous investor Tiger Global putting another $5 million in the Florida-based software vendor.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking News

Third US rail union rejects tentative labor agreement

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has become the third union to reject a collective bargaining agreement with US railroads reached in September, but no strike or lockout can take place until December.
North-American rail

US freight volumes still higher than 2021: Cass

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Freight volumes are dropping month to month but remain higher than a year ago, buoyed by inventory repositioning and easing supply constraints for manufacturers, according to the latest Cass Freight Index.
TruckloadLTL

Marine chassis manufacturer being probed by US authorities in duty case

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The investigation by US authorities into whether Pitts Enterprises evaded duties on chassis may have serious ramifications for the South Carolina Ports Authority, which ordered 11,000 chassis from a Pitts subsidiary to launch its own pool next March.
Truckload

Intermodal providers clawing to keep rail business in 2023

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The aggressive moves by intermodal providers to keep business with lower pricing come after North American domestic intermodal demand fell 10 percent between March and September.
Intermodal providers

M&A in US trucking, logistics cross ‘asset lines’

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US transportation companies with cash on hand are acquiring asset-based truckers and non-asset freight brokers alike to add services and shipper customers and build network density.
TruckloadDrayageTruck brokers

JOC Truckload Capacity Index dipped in Q3, but demand remains robust

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
After rising strongly from the third quarter of 2021 through the second quarter of this year, the JOC Truckload Capacity Index dropped slightly last quarter, but demand for equipment is still high.
Truckload

BNSF struggles persist for international loads in Chicago

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Congestion continues at BNSF’s Logistics Park Chicago terminal as chassis shortages have led to prolonged turn times for truckers using LPC or other BNSF spillover lots.
North-American rail

Werner buys truckload brokerage ReedTMS

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The acquisition of ReedTMS Logistics not only expands Werner’s brokerage reach, it also delivers shipper customers in the staple food and beverage industries.
TruckloadTruck brokers

Seventh union ratifies tentative US rail agreement

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
While three rail unions have yet to vote, one more has ratified the tentative five-year contract brokered in mid-September, bringing US Class I railroads and the dozen unions one step closer to a national bargaining agreement.
North-American rail

US truck capacity shifting as spot rates drop

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US truckload capacity isn’t so much declining as it is shifting, according to data, and that will pose challenges to shippers and carriers trying to access trucks, trailers, and drivers.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

US trucking jobs rebounded to all-time high in October

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
For-hire trucking companies added almost 20,000 jobs last month, erasing September’s payroll cut as capacity shifts between trucking sectors.
Trucking laborLTL

Lower LA-LB imports help BNSF clear Dallas congestion

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
With softer import volumes coming from Los Angeles-Long Beach, BNSF has made significant progress clearing the backlog of ocean containers at its Dallas-area terminal and hopes to restore normal conditions within weeks.
North-American rail

Weakening freight demand puts C.H. Robinson, Werner in cost-control mode

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Two of the United States’ biggest logistics providers say they are focused on controlling costs amid growing concern about the direction of the US economy.
Truckload

US 3PL Echo extends global forwarding reach

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The acquisition of Fastmore Logistics will give Echo Global Logistics more access to international freight forwarders, linking domestic and international cargo networks.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruck brokers

LTL demand now rising at standalone XPO

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Tonnage began increasing year over year at XPO late in the third quarter and continued to rise in October as the less-than-truckload carrier expands capacity.
LTL

MyCarrier offers lifeline to shippers affected by Kuebix closure

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Shippers affected by the closure of a free less-than-truckload transportation management system in October have been given a pathway to migrate to another system connected to 15 LTL carriers.
Logistics Technology NewsLTLTrucking News

Newtrul nabs funding to expand load board ‘search engine’

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
The truckload market is still searching for a single platform that aggregates shipper loads and carrier capacity, a role that investors are backing Chicago-based Newtrul to eventually fill.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruck brokers

US trucking market on rough road to ‘equilibrium’

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Regional stress is running through US truckload markets as demand softens, with price and capacity fluctuations that challenge shippers and carriers.
TruckloadTruck brokers

Inland woes boosting rail dwells in Vancouver

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor; and Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
A refusal by some truck drivers to call at congested rail ramps in Toronto and Montreal has caused the clogs to extend back to Vancouver, where rail container dwells are on the rise again after improving in September.
Intermodal providers

JOC Intermodal Savings Index: Strong Q3 contract discounts

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The JOC Intermodal Savings Index shows intermodal contracts saved shippers a lot of money in the third quarter, but spot rail rates saved very little, especially on short hauls in the eastern US.
Intermodal providers

‘Too early’ to discuss 2023 rail contracts: Hub, Schneider

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Hub Group and Schneider National sidestepped questions about intermodal contracts for 2023, a far different approach than the two companies took a year ago when the pricing power was on their side.
Intermodal providers

US trailer demand defies economic downturn

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Growing use of equipment pools and power-only trucking support long-term demand for 53-foot trailers that transcends short-term economic trends, manufacturer Wabash says.
Truckload

US trade groups urge Biden to re-engage to avert rail strike

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
Now that a second rail union has rejected the tentative contract deal brokered by the Biden administration, trade associations are asking the White House to intervene before a potential November strike.
North-American rail

US truckload spot market likely at a bottom: Schneider

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Schneider says the peak season will be muted because shippers moved inventory into warehouses earlier this year, but the weaker volumes do not necessarily mean steep rate cuts for shippers in 2023 contracts.
Truckload

Lower Q3 volumes point to softer LTL market: ODFL

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Less demand for its customers’ goods is cutting into tonnage and shipments at Old Dominion Freight Line, but not the company’s revenue or profit.
LTL

Falling volumes drive leaner forecast for US intermodal

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
While US intermodal shippers are pleased service has improved, some don’t need the service reliability they sought earlier in the year because of elevated inventories and fears of an economic recession.
Intermodal providers

Bumpy spot market forces US truck shippers to reroute

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Freight congestion, now at inland distribution sites such as warehouses and intermodal rail terminals, and on-time delivery continue to be problems for shippers despite falling trucking costs.
Trucking NewsLTL

US LTL group launches standard digital BOL

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
More than two years in development, a standard electronic bill of lading for less-than-truckload shipments promises to streamline the flow of data, providing greater visibility to shippers.
LTLLogistics Technology News

US LTL market softening, but not by much: 3PLs

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US shippers will find LTL savings in 2023, but the biggest savings will go to those who can accurately forecast demand and fit freight to carrier networks, according to BlueGrace Logistics.
LTL

UP ‘confident’ rail labor issues will be resolved without strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The rank-and-file of the US’s third-largest rail union rejected a tentative deal hammered out last month, raising fears of a crippling strike just days before Thanksgiving.
North-American rail

Strong trucking earnings temper shift in pricing power

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US shippers will win transportation savings in 2023 bids, but large truckload carriers haven’t lost all pricing muscle.
Truckload