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

Cass sees freight demand ‘ebbing’ while others see slower growth

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The debate over whether a freight recession is starting in US trucking is getting hotter as spot rates decline but other demand and pricing indicators stay positive.
TruckloadLTL

Amazon’s freight brokerage taps MercuryGate for shipper volume

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Amazon Freight has created its first direct integration with a transportation management system provider, piping its capacity of 40,000 owned trailers and third-party drivers to MercuryGate’s base of shipper users.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruck brokers

Demand keeps pressure on US LTL capacity, rates

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Demand for LTL capacity is rising even faster than carriers can add terminals and doors, pushing rates higher still.
LTL

Coming import volumes seen boosting sagging California spot truck rates

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Truckload spot rates out of California have fallen for five straight months, but some believe demand will rebound as the COVID outbreak in China subsides and front-loaded cargo ordered to beat potential labor disruption on the West Coast hits the ports.
Truckload

Forward Air expands drayage to feed LTL network

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Forward Air is acquiring a Seattle-based drayage company as part of its strategy to direct more transloaded international container freight to its expedited LTL network.
LTL

Hiring surge points to strong US trucking demand

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
For-hire trucking employment soared past seasonal expectations in April, underscoring strong demand despite declining spot market pricing.
Trucking labor

JOC ISI: Q1 contract rail rates provided big savings

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal shippers saw record-high savings under contracts signed in Q1, but a recent slide in the spot truckload market could diminish the savings that rails can provide on one-off business over the next three months.
North-American rail

Rising inventories reshaping inland distribution: Ryder

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Shipper demand for more integrated port-to-door logistics is driving development of new, denser distribution networks, with facilities popping up in previously overlooked locations, Ryder System said.
Trucking News

Irregular hours, rate instability weigh on small fleet truck drivers: SmartHop

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
More than 40 percent of drivers at small truckload carriers surveyed by technology provider SmartHop have entered the industry over the past two years, but many are considering moving to larger carriers for stability.
TruckloadLogistics Technology News

UP realigning SoCal domestic intermodal network

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific Railroad at the end of June will begin revamping how it builds domestic intermodal trains in Southern California in a bid to improve service for all shippers.
North-American rail

Chinese lockdowns risk factory-driven ‘bullwhip’

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor |
The longer the Chinese lockdowns last the more intense the scramble by US importers to secure factory production and transport capacity, potentially mirroring the whiplash of order cancellations in early 2020 that were followed by unprecedented demand.
Container linesRail News

Class I railroads not improving port intermodal service: FMC’s Bentzel

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Federal Maritime Commissioner member Carl Bentzel said US Class I railroads need to hire and invest more to boost their intermodal service if the nation’s ports are to avoid future meltdowns and congestion.
North-American rail

Some IMCs question role of small shippers in intermodal volume growth

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
As domestic intermodal volumes rise, non-asset intermodal marketing companies are worried that US railroads are not buying enough 53-foot containers to support their shipper customers.
North-American rail

Knight-Swift expands LTL reach with terminal buying spree

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Knight-Swift now gets 13 percent of its revenue from its regional less-than-truckload subsidiaries, as it adds terminals and expands from a “super-regional” to a national footprint.
LTL

BNSF partner COFC Logistics buying 5,500 domestic containers 

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
COFC will buy 5,500 new containers in the next 12 months to provide a BNSF Railway alternative for Schneider customers who do not want to switch to Union Pacific Railroad in 2023.
North-American rail

Freight market death ‘greatly exaggerated’: Knight-Swift CEO

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US shippers’ need for truck capacity guarantees in a volatile market is pushing more freight away from the spot market to contract carriers, especially the largest fleets such as Knight-Swift.
Truckload

UP, CSX blame labor shortage for volume, service declines

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal volumes and service metrics declined in the first quarter for CSX and UP, though both US railroads believe they can hire more labor and haul more ocean containers in the coming months.
North-American rail

New funding pushes Convoy valuation to $3.8 billion

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Venture capital investors have plunged $410 million into Convoy, as one of the more notable digitally native freight brokers seeks to expand its reach to small truckload carriers and large shippers.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokersTrucking News

US freight market rebalancing: trucking executives

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Carrier executives say US transportation markets are stabilizing, with spot rates falling as freight shifts to contract carriers, but new approaches to contracting and planning are needed to control costs.
TruckloadLTL

US truck rate downturn linked to contract shift: J.B. Hunt

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
J.B. Hunt Transport Services said there is more intermodal demand than available capacity, and it downplayed the likelihood of an imminent freight recession.
Truckload

Industrial demand gassing up US LTL market

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Recent gains in manufacturing activity, including consumer goods production, suggest continued expansion of US freight demand while dampening worries about retail spending.
LTL

STB approves CSX acquisition of Pan Am Railways

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
 The US Surface Transportation Board has given its blessing to CSX Transportation’s acquisition of short-line operator Pan Am Railways, saying the benefits outweigh any anti-competitive risks.
North-American rail

NS alters free time, storage policies to speed cargo flow

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern is shortening how much free time a shipper will have before storage penalties apply, an effort to speed cargo flow as the railroad struggles to provide reliable intermodal service.
North-American rail

LA-LB shipper frustration with IPI raises profile of UP-Valor partnership

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
Logistics provider Valor Victoria is looking to reduce port congestion in Los Angeles-Long Beach by purchasing slots on Union Pacific trains and shipping containers to inland hubs such as Salt Lake City.
Intermodal providers

JOC Rankings: Higher rates, M&A accelerated US trucking revenue growth in 2021

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Trucking revenue broke records in 2021, riding on a wave of mergers and acquisitions as well as swelling rates and unrelenting demand, and analysts forecast that 2022 will continue the positive trend.
Trucking News

Truckload rate cooling may be ‘delayed seasonality'

Ari Ashe and William B. Cassidy, Senior Editors |
Truckload spot rates have cooled considerably in the last 45 days, but a larger freight recession may not be on the horizon given demand remains strong in other modes of commercial transportation.
TruckloadLTLTruck brokers

US shippers consolidating loads to create truck capacity

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Better use of existing trucks and trailers is creating truckload capacity and reducing transportation costs, but it’s not clear how long that fresh capacity will be available, DAT principal analyst Dean Croke says.
Truckload

Domestic intermodal sector struggling to regain footing: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst |
This year was expected to be a year of rebuilding for domestic intermodal, with recovery of some of the recent significant share losses; it isn’t working out that way so far, writes JOC analyst Larry Gross.
Rail News

BNSF struggling to deliver ocean boxes from Los Angeles to Chicago

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
A recent resurgence in international intermodal volumes is causing BNSF Railway to struggle to provide consistent service, disrupting the flow of containers between Los Angeles and Chicago.
North-American rail

UP reduces container surcharges in Oakland, Seattle

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Union Pacific Railroad is reducing its surcharge on certain loads in 53-foot containers out of Oakland and Seattle because more boxes are available for shippers.
North-American rail

Port freight shift primes Gulf Coast spot truck rates

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The shift of containerized freight from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and Southeast is absorbing truck capacity in those regions and pushing up spot rates, including rates from Houston to California.
Truckload

Magaya arms forwarders with automated LTL pricing tool

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Forwarding software provider Magaya is wading into the less-than-truckload technology market with an automated pricing tool meant to help its customers quote faster to shippers.
Logistics Technology NewsLTL

Congestion at KCS Dallas ramp causing month-long delays

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
A major disruption in Kansas City Southern’s terminal near Dallas is causing some shippers to wait more than a month to get their containers, and there is no timeline on when KCS will return to normal operations.
North-American rail

Truckload pricing tool partners with procurement vendors

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Fresh off a seed funding round in February, truckload pricing intelligence provider Greenscreens.ai has built connectivity with procurement technology partners FreightFriend and 3Gtms.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruck brokers

Falling China-Europe rail volumes may take years to recover: rail executives

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
Shippers and their service providers exiting the China-Europe rail route through Russia has slammed the brakes on a trade lane that expanded by almost 30 percent in 2021.
International rail

Freight marketplace Emerge chases ambitious growth

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Freight marketplace Emerge has designs on reshaping the truckload procurement space in North America, with an ambitious target of $20 billion in freight spend through its platform this year.
Logistics Technology NewsTruck brokersTrucking News

China’s chassis, container role ‘entrenched’ by government: FMC’s Bentzel

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
US Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl Bentzel said China’s dominance in container and chassis manufacturing is the direct result of the Communist government’s support for the sector.
Intermodal providers

Lack of equipment spurs rail crisis at West Coast ports

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
West Coast ports and terminal operators say rail container dwell times have exploded of late, bringing back memories of last summer’s rail meltdown that led to congestion problems and equipment shortages throughout the inland supply chain.
North-American rail

Russia-free routes to Europe add time, money: forwarders

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
The reluctance to ship China export rail cargo through Russia to Europe is keeping forwarders busy, but the only available options come at a cost.
Rail News

Latest US import surge tightens inland chassis pools

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Marine chassis pools are getting tighter after a jump in international intermodal volume from West Coast ports in February, but stakeholders are hopeful of avoiding a repeat of 2021 when BNSF and Union Pacific terminals were overwhelmed with cargo.
North-American rail