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

J.B. Hunt says US supply chain remains slow, but worst could be over

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
J.B. Hunt believes BNSF Railway’s service has improved in recent weeks, which could lead to faster turns of containers and lower costs for shippers; but when that happens is still an open question.
Truckload

Industrial rebound pushing up US truck tonnage

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
An increase in US manufacturing output is putting more freight in trucks this fall, contributing to an increase in truck tonnage as measured by the American Trucking Association and others.
TruckloadLTL

Norfolk Southern aims to boost grain shipments through NY-NJ

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Norfolk Southern is adding a containerized grain export service from Ohio to the Port of New York and New Jersey as the Midwest harvest season looms and shippers seek alternative routings.
North-American rail

US truck demand rises, but so does capacity

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
A series of freight activity indexes, including the Cass Freight Shipments Index and a for-hire trucking ton-mile index, show shipments are still higher than a year ago, despite recession fears.
Trucking News

Faltering stock market halts Transfix’s public listing plans

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
A weakening freight market and growing investor unease with holding companies designed to take early stage companies public have led Transfix to put a public listing on ice.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokersTrucking News

US LTL costs rose in September after summer decline

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
LTL costs to shippers rose 0.3 percent in September and were up 15 percent year over year while truckload costs declined more slowly, according to the latest US producer price index.
Trucking NewsLTL

International logistics providers targeting US trucking

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US shippers should expect more international acquisitions of domestic US trucking operations as logistics companies work to provide more end-to-end services and visibility.
Truckload

Congestion easing at BNSF St. Louis, Fort Worth terminals

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
BNSF Railway has lowered container backlogs at two inland rail ramps as regional chassis shortages ease, allowing shippers to pick up freight more quickly.
North-American rail

Barstow intermodal project could transform Southern California intermodal picture

Lawrence Gross, president, Gross Transportation Consulting |
BNSF’s newly announced Barstow International Gateway, with a rail yard, an intermodal terminal, and transload warehouses in Barstow, Calif., has the potential to transform California intermodal traffic with improved throughput and velocity, lower costs, and a reduced environmental impact.
Rail News

US truckload spot rates stabilizing after summer slump

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Spot US truckload rates continued to cool through September, but there are early signs that prices are bouncing back in October.
Truckload

Procurement adaptability trumps truckload pricing predictions: software providers

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Shippers need to rethink the entire truckload procurement process, not just use technology that marginally decreases costs by relying too much on predictive pricing, according to a trio of procurement technology experts.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking News

US for-hire trucking employment takes a plunge

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Real, unadjusted jobs in trucking dropped by 21,200 in September, an unusually high number, as contract and spot truckload rates declined.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

Softer truck rates, spotty rail service give intermodal providers tough sell

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal providers will have difficulty selling the rail product in early 2023 bids because truck rates continue to drop while intermodal service has been lackluster.
North-American rail

Ian recovery will exacerbate Florida truckload rate imbalance: analyst

Jason Miller, associate professor of logistics, Michigan State University, and JOC analyst |
The long recovery from Hurricane Ian will drive up the ratio of Florida inbound and outbound loads, pushing up southbound truckload spot rates while relief supplies flood the state, writes JOC analyst Jason Miller.
Truckload

Overhaul wades into insurance technology market

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Overhaul has joined a growing group of visibility providers aiming to connect real-time shipment data to cargo insurance solutions.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking News

US truck shippers rethinking spot strategy: analysts

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
More shippers are returning to the truckload spot market as rates drop, but experts say they’re using that market more strategically than ever before to reduce transportation costs.
TruckloadTruck brokers

LTL industry wrestles with next stage of technology development

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
The less-than-truckload industry is reaching its technology inflection point, which it will need to capture rising demand from shippers seeking operators that are easy to do business with.
Logistics Technology NewsLTLTrucking News

STB extends public hearings on CP-KCS merger

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
The Surface Transportation Board opened public sessions last Wednesday for three days of testimony, but scheduled three additional days of mostly virtual sessions this week to accommodate all interested parties seeking to participate.
North-American rail

BNSF’s proposed inland rail hub aims to speed LA-LB cargo flow

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
BNSF’s proposed inland hub 130 miles from Los Angeles–Long Beach will reduce port congestion and eliminate thousands of truck moves by shuttling marine containers by rail to transloading warehouses.
Intermodal providers

UP, CSX reaffirm commitment to small, mid-sized shippers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
CSX and Union Pacific say they are committed in the long term to all intermodal shippers, whether they use private containers with Schneider National or rely on the rail-owned container pool.
North-American rail

Domestic chassis balance likely to come in 2023: equipment providers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
While there are delays in the production of 53-foot chassis, a slowdown in domestic intermodal demand will likely bring supply and demand into balance in 2023, say domestic equipment providers.
Truckload

More chassis, yard space cut container backlog at BNSF Alliance terminal

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor and Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
A backlog of containers at BNSF’s Dallas-Fort Worth rail ramp has been reduced by about 25 percent due to more chassis coming into its yard and additional space and lift equipment.
North-American rail

Rate drops, surcharge absence signal weak intermodal rail peak

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Domestic intermodal providers have not put peak season surcharges in place in Southern California this year, a far cry from the $5,000 per container surcharges in Los Angeles each of the last two years.
North-American rail

Defeat of truck-only tolls to ease transportation costs in US Northeast

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
A US court ruling that declared Rhode Island’s truck-only tolls unconstitutional will save tens of millions of dollars in operating and shipping costs yearly for truckers and their customers.
TruckloadLTL

NS Jacksonville service improved in Q3

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern Railway has made improvements in service in Jacksonville in the last three months, according to service metrics and intermodal marketing companies.
North-American rail

Truck tonnage surge shows crack in freight gridlock

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US for-hire truck tonnage jumped 2.8 percent in August from July, according to the American Trucking Associations, as consumers and the US economy remained resilient despite inflation.
Trucking NewsLTLTruck brokers

Intermodal equipment shortages, congestion should ease by early 2023: analyst

Lawrence Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst |
The North American intermodal sector is quickly approaching a pivot point that will move it from equipment scarcity and congestion to equipment abundance and better cargo flows, and the speed of this change will take many by surprise.
Rail News

Convoy wades into visibility market with new tools

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Convoy is attempting to differentiate itself within the competitive freight broker landscape by using data gathered from its driver-mandated app to provide more execution-focused visibility insights.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruck brokers

Steady improvement forecast for US chassis market: IEPs

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
Equipment providers believe the chaos caused by two years of chassis shortages will end sometime next year as excessive street dwell times diminish and new domestic and foreign chassis manufacturers enter the US market.
Truckload

UP ousts CP from shared container pool in favor of CN

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific has ejected Canadian Pacific from a shared pool of rail-owned domestic containers, a move likely related to the pending CP-Kansas City Southern merger that could take business away from UP.
North-American rail

Lower costs for US shippers seen in trucking PPIs

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The US producer price indexes (PPIs) for trucking dropped in August as contract pricing cooled and fuel prices and surcharges came down.
LTL

CSX taps former Ford executive as new CEO

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
CSX said its future CEO brings a deep understanding of the manufacturing and energy sectors, both critical customer bases for the eastern railroad.
North-American rail

Tentative contract deal averts crippling US rail strike

JOC Staff |
The tentative deal comes after a marathon 20-hour negotiating session lasting all day Wednesday and into Thursday at the Department of Labor, with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh hosting leadership from railroads and the unions.
Rail News

Confidence waning as ports, rails prepare for strike

JOC Staff |
While railroad management and unions were meeting with US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to avert a strike, confidence is waning as shippers, railroads, and ports prepare for a shutdown early Friday.
North-American rail

Pressure building in Washington to avert rail strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
All eyes turned to Washington amid the realization that a rail strike disrupting the already fragile US supply chain six weeks before crucial midterm elections would not be helpful to the White House and Congressional Democrats.
North-American rail

MyCarrier rides growing LTL needs to new funding round

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
MyCarrier has created automation partnerships with 15 less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers and will handle more than $1 billion in shipper freight spend, factors that induced venture firms to invest $22 million in the company.
Logistics Technology NewsLTL

US manufacturers producing higher truck volumes

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The average manufacturing shipping volume rose 1 percent in August year over year, while other industries saw their truck shipments drop 4.6 percent, according to FourKites.
TruckloadLTL

Talks continue as railroads plan to halt operations

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Shippers are in a wait-and-see mode as the obstacle to a deal with the country’s two largest rail unions is about lifestyle concerns rather than compensation, a source close to the negotiations told JOC.com.
North-American rail

Vancouver delays clean truck program amid ongoing pushback

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
About 20 percent of the 1,800 vehicles serving the Port of Vancouver would be phased out under the clean truck program that has been delayed for a second time.
Trucking News

US railroads to begin cutting service as deal with biggest unions remains elusive

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The stakes are high for a rail labor deal to be reached because the Association of American Railroads estimates that a strike would cost the US economy $2 billion per day, while a disruption would be a political liability for the Biden administration.
North-American rail