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

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

US trucking demand steady despite steep spot rate correction

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The US trucking market is reinventing itself after a significant spot market correction, with larger contract carriers expecting steady freight demand through 2022 despite economic fears.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

DAT, Convoy embroiled in anti-competition legal battle

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Load board provider DAT and freight broker Convoy have sued one another over Convoy’s development of a product that DAT says is competitive with its own, violating a contract Convoy signed with DAT.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokers

Flexport, Nolan partner to track global, domestic freight

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor; and William Cassidy, Senior Editor |
End-to-end visibility of the freight flowing across oceans and moving across the US is the goal of the partnership between Flexport and Nolan Transportation Group, giving shippers more control over modal choices and costs.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokersTrucking News

BNSF taps Tacoma for new Midwest intermodal freight gateway

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
BNSF has partnered with the Northwest Seaport Alliance to open a new intermodal rail yard near the Port of Tacoma that will serve cargo destined for US Midwest markets.
North-American rail

US LTL trucking ‘in a good spot’: ODFL CEO

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The gap between truckload and LTL grows wider as LTL carriers maintain pricing discipline and focus on network density to drive revenue and profit growth.
LTL

Truckload executives see US capacity under pressure

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Truckload capacity is reportedly loosening, but carrier executives say it could tighten again quickly for US shippers in a market that remains in flux.
Truckload

US trucking looking more ‘seasonal’ to motor carriers

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Seasonal trends in over-the-road trucking are re-emerging — but not pre-COVID pricing — as the market realigns, truckload carrier executives say.
TruckloadTruck brokers

BNSF, UP metering inland containers from LA-LB

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
BNSF and UP are metering containers from Southern California to avoid another intermodal meltdown like last summer, but the move is causing some import boxes to sit for six weeks or longer.
North-American rail

J.B. Hunt promotes Simpson to new position of president

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Shelley Simpson, who has been behind the development of J.B. Hunt’s shipper portal and overseen double-digit growth in its trucking and intermodal units, will become the company’s president next month.
Truckload

Trucking costs rising nationwide amid shift to contract: US Bank

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
A shift of freight to contract trucking providers and rising fuel prices boosted shipper spending on trucking across the US in the second quarter, even though volumes fluctuated by region.
TruckloadLTL

J.B. Hunt grows Q2 intermodal volume, but blames rails for muting gains

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
J.B. Hunt is in talks with primary rail partners BNSF Railway and Norfolk Southern Railway on how they can improve service in the second half of the year.
Truckload

Larger US truckload carriers still adding drivers

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Marten Transport increased its driver pool by more than 15 percent year over year in the second quarter, as the truckload carrier and its competitors seek to balance capacity, freight demand, and profitability.
Truckload

US retail inventories leveling off, but not manufacturing stocks

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Retailers are beginning to pare back bloated inventories, but manufacturers are adding stock as they search for the elusive ‘golden screw.’
Trucking News

Biden appoints Emergency Board to intervene in rail negotiations

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor; Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The Presidential Emergency Board, which consists of arbitrators and negotiators familiar with the issues being contested, has 30 days to issue a nonbinding recommendation to the two sides.
North-American rail

Trucking PPIs indicate ‘cooling’ contract pricing

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
A 2.4 percent drop in the long-haul truckload producer price index for June shows contract truckload rates are softening, but prices shippers pay for LTL and specialized trucking continue to rise.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

Shippers face higher rates linked to UP realignment in Northern California

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific is temporarily shifting some domestic intermodal traffic from Lathrop to Oakland, a move that may present opportunities for BNSF and the truckload sector to capture market share on routes to the Gulf Coast and Southeast.
North-American rail

Vancouver drayage drivers weigh job action over new clean truck rules

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
Tension is rising at the Port of Vancouver, where pending changes to the port’s clean truck program call for 5 percent of vehicles serving the port to be replaced by November.
Trucking News

US shipper spending rising as shipments fall: Cass

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The Cass Freight Index shows volatility in shipment volumes, rates, and modal mix with the US economy in a “soft patch” in June.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

Rail issues a priority for White House task force: port envoy

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
The new White House port envoy says because private sector transportation providers and cargo interests operate independently, the US supply chain is fragmented and a bottleneck that surfaces in one sector spreads quickly to others.
Intermodal providers

Federal intervention likely to head off US rail labor action

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor; Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
President Joe Biden will most likely get the federal government involved in US railway labor talks this week if he hopes to avoid a nationwide strike that would further disrupt the country’s supply chains.
North-American rail

US truck demand rising despite slowing economy

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The US economy likely contracted in the second quarter, but analysts see signs of growing freight activity ahead.
TruckloadTruck brokersLTL

Slipping US intermodal performance linked to warehouse capacity crunch

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
US warehouse woes are now showing in lower train speeds and on-time performance among Class I railroads, as stakeholders turn up the heat on retailers for not retrieving their cargo fast enough from depots and terminals.
North-American rail

New data reveals depth of US intermodal service woes

Lawrence Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst |
Like a candle in an otherwise dark room, new reporting requirements from the US Surface Transportation Board are illuminating at least one the factors that has inhibited the growth of US intermodal rail volumes, writes intermodal analyst Lawrence Gross.
North-American rail

Trucking makes ‘massive’ hiring gains on strong demand

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
For-hire US trucking companies have added more than 62,000 real jobs since April, a record number for the period fueled by continuing strong contract freight demand.
TruckloadLTL

June bump in California spot truck rates not expected to sustain

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Truckload dry-van spot rates in California are likely to fall below 2020 and 2021 levels in the coming months, but prices on a historical basis will probably be slightly better than the pro-carrier market of 2018.
Truckload