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

Spot truckload rates dropping from US ports

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The decline in outbound per-mile spot rates from US ports dropped more than the US average in August as normal seasonality and abnormal gridlock crimped demand, a JOC analysis shows.
Truckload

Norfolk Southern revamping international network in 2023

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern will convert all its international intermodal terminals to ground container facilities beginning in 2023, saying it has learned from the import surge and longer dwells that stacking boxes is the best way to keep cargo flowing.
North-American rail

US Xpress reorganizes, emphasizing contract business

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Stung by lower tractor utilization rates and rising costs, truckload carrier US Xpress pares back its technology team and real estate, and focuses on adding truckload contract business.
Truckload

Maersk halts Fort Worth import bookings amid inland backlog

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Maersk has stopped accepting inland point intermodal freight for Fort Worth due to inland rail ramp congestion that has resulted in severe delays in the retrieval of import cargo.
North-American rail

Rising electricity prices erode European rail competitiveness

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
The rising cost of electricity is the latest challenge facing rail freight in Europe, which finds itself being uncompetitive with trucking while at the same time being overwhelmed by growing volumes.
International railAsia-Europe

NS reconfiguring Kansas City terminal amid import deluge

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern is bumping domestic containers to two auxiliary lots in Kansas City as a surge in long-dwelling import boxes has exceeded the existing capacity of its terminal in the market.
North-American rail

ODFL’s LTL volume takes seasonal dip in August

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
LTL shipments at Old Dominion Freight Line fell about 3 percent year over year in August, following a more seasonal pattern than August 2021 when shipments jumped 17 percent.
LTL

NS opening lots in Memphis to address terminal gridlock

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern Railway opened two auxiliary lots to handle as many as 2,000 ocean containers to relieve the gridlock clogging its main terminal outside Memphis.
North-American rail

US transport hiring rises, but not at warehouses

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
While trucking makes hiring gains in the US, unadjusted warehousing and storage employment has fallen in four of the past five months, contributing to supply chain bottlenecks.
Trucking labor

US shippers fine-tune search for warehousing space

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
With US warehouses full or filling up, shippers are rethinking broader distribution strategies and basic practices such as how they stack and track goods to find the space they need.
Industrial Real Estate NewsTrucking News

US extends truck driver hours exemption ahead of expected COVID surge

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The HOS exemption has been extended five times since it was put in place in 2020 by a presidential emergency order, and it has been modified as the pandemic evolved.
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsTrucking News

European rail network must adapt to ‘new reality’: intermodal union

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
Multiple crises in Europe are leading to greater demand for rail transport, but the network is not able to handle any large-scale cargo shift from the disrupted road and barge sectors.
International rail

Revisions to UP Lathrop project a ‘win’ for some IMCs

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
UP has made changes to its reconstruction project in Northern California that should reduce the overall financial and volume impact on some domestic intermodal shippers.
North-American rail

XPO isn’t braking for economic slowdown

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The incoming CEO of XPO Logistics is intent on adding capacity in the form of terminals, trailers, and drivers to meet long-term demand for less-than-truckload services.
LTL

US railroads reach contract deal with smaller unions

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Three of 12 unions representing rail workers reached a tentative deal to avert a strike next month, but two of the largest unions have still not reached an agreement with US freight railroads.
North-American rail

Warehousing space gets scarcer in Chicago

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Weeks of delays in moving freight from US ports to Chicago are eating into the inland warehousing space needed to get that freight out of intermodal railyards and to customers.
Trucking News

July US truck tonnage at ‘elevated levels’: ATA

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The American Trucking Associations reports truck tonnage levels were still high in July, running counter to reports that trucking demand is weakening ahead of the fourth quarter.
TruckloadLTL

Charleston moves ahead with plans for near-dock intermodal facility

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
Charleston’s planned near-dock intermodal facility would allow the port more autonomy to move cargo and the ability to connect with major cities like Atlanta and Charlotte.
Rail News

RoadOne adds to transload footprint in Oakland, Norfolk

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
RoadOne sees demand for transload services as being sustainable enough to outlast any economic downturn as it invests in facilities in Norfolk and Oakland.
Rail NewsDrayageTrucking News

Heartland doubles revenue stream with deal for CFI units

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The largest truckload acquisition to date this year would put Heartland at about 11th on the Top 25 Truckload Carrier rankings prepared for JOC.com.
Truckload

Presidential board recommends large pay hike for US rail workers

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
US railways and union workers have 30 days to review the wage and benefit recommendations made by the Presidential Emergency Board created by the White House last month to oversee the closely watched negotiations.
North-American rail

Demand drives JOC Truckload Capacity Index to record high

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Large truckload carriers are adding capacity, whether by purchasing trucks or acquiring trucking companies, and that's pushing the JOC Truckload Capacity Index to its highest level ever.
Truckload

US shippers claiming leverage in truckload pricing

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
US truckload carriers are increasingly lowering contract rates to keep business as the spot market seeks a new floor, shippers tell JOC.com.
Truckload

US warehousing demand shifting inland: JLL

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Inventory buildup and changing inland distribution routes are setting a fire under construction of new logistics and distribution facilities in markets across the US, despite economic concerns.
Industrial Real Estate NewsTrucking News

Truckload rate relief coming to US shippers: Cass

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
It is “highly probable” US shippers will recover at least some of last year’s truckload rate hikes, as the Cass Freight Index shows a sequential drop in truckload linehaul costs.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

Proposed Southern California rail-served inland port gaining traction

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
The proposed rail-served Mojave Inland Port 90 miles north of Los Angeles is being pitched as a one-stop shop for retailers, logistics providers and the railroads as an alternative to the congested truck corridors in the more densely populated Inland Empire.
Intermodal providers

CN’s eastern Canada depots aim to relieve western port backlog

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Canadian National Railway is looking to pare down the backlog of import containers at Vancouver and Prince Rupert port terminals by shuttling boxes to “relief” yards near Toronto and Montreal.
North-American rail

Lack of parts, labor to extend US chassis shortages into 2024

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
North American chassis manufacturers expect to fall well short of their production goals this year despite widespread equipment shortages that have exacerbated congestion in key ports and inland hubs.
Truckload

Trucking PPIs drop as fuel prices, surcharges fall

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Declines in the producer price indexes for various sectors of trucking reflect falling fuel surcharge revenue and lower rates in new contracts, but don’t point to a large-scale pricing rollback.
TruckloadLTL

H1 data masks big changes afoot in domestic intermodal: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst |
Domestic intermodal has not yet been able to demonstrate the ability to fully recover from the share lost during the post-pandemic surge, although private owners of domestic containers are hoping to change that.
Rail News

LTL carriers expanding despite slowing US economy

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Some of the largest US less-than-truckload carriers, including FedEx Freight, are adding terminals and doors to their networks as LTL freight demand defies the threat of economic recession.
LTL

High demand keeps lid on truck capacity: experts

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Strong trucking demand beyond the truckload spot market is to keep pressure on truck pricing, and will do so into 2023, speakers at a JOC webcast said Wednesday.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

UP giving partial rebates for Lathrop–Oakland shift

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific Railroad will issue a partial rebate on intermodal loads in Northern California to help defray the cost of moving boxes between Lathrop to Oakland starting next month.
North-American rail

Knight-Swift expects H2 intermodal rebound as UP deal evolves

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Knight-Swift's CEO acknowledged some shippers did not stick with Swift Intermodal after the switch to UP because their networks were better aligned with former rail partner BNSF.
Rail News

Convoy–DAT battle a sign of impending load board disruption

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Convoy’s counterpunching approach to being sued by load board provider DAT Freight & Analytics is as much about winning the battle of public opinion as it is about winning in court, a transportation attorney told JOC.com.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokersTrucking News

Multiple pain points test forwarders on China–Europe rail route

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
The main rail option from China for European importers is via the so-called “middle corridor,” but as demand steadily increases, so too are the many chokepoints along the route.
International railAsia-Europe

Rhine low water levels restrict loads, spark surcharges

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
Falling water levels on the Rhine are a seasonal problem, but this summer a European heatwave and low rainfall has left parts of the river virtually impassable.
Intermodal providers

JOC Intermodal Savings Index: Truck rates poached rail freight in Q2

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal discounts declined in the second quarter both sequentially and year over year as shippers were able to negotiate lower spot and contract truckload rates with motor carriers.
Intermodal providers

Kansas City rail congestion building for second straight year

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Rail terminals are congested for the second consecutive year in Kansas City, causing truckers and importers to lash out at BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.
North-American rail

Inland congestion cuts LA-LB intermodal rail service to record low

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
The steep reduction in rail services to Los Angeles-Long Beach is having a knock-on impact at the terminal gates, with the average truck turn time increasing by four minutes in July.
Rail News