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

Large US truckload carriers reined in capacity in Q1: Journal of Commerce index 

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
An index based on truck counts at large truckload carriers dropped nearly 5% in the first quarter from late 2022 as those carriers adjusted to a softer market and lower contract and spot rates.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

New UP intermodal service from Houston to provide West Coast reach

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Union Pacific’s launch of direct intermodal service from Houston comes two weeks after competitor BNSF announced it would begin a new service from the port’s Barbours Cut marine terminal.
North-American railContainer Shipping NewsNorth American portsIntermodal providers

CPKC adds new reefer containers to Mexico-US service

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Weeks after starting a new daily train between central Mexico and Chicago, CPKC is introducing 1,000 temperature-controlled containers to the service in a bid to court freight from reefer shippers.
North-American rail

US truckload market ‘bouncing’ along pricing bottom: analysts

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The long drop in truckload spot market rates has eased, revealing a soft bottom for pricing, but more demand is needed to fuel any upswing benefiting truckers, observers say.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

Shippers hold onto intermodal boxes amid warehouse reshuffling: survey

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
As shippers scramble to shed unwanted inventory, more than 80% responding to a Journal of Commerce survey reported that they’ve kept 53-foot domestic containers for too long, incurring detention fees.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

LTL carrier Roadrunner finds faster network attracts more freight

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
More freight density, a tighter point-to-point network and better data have enabled successive rounds of transit time cuts at Roadrunner, which company executives claim is gaining shipments.
SurfaceLTLTrucking labor

Shippers, regulators muddle through ‘grey area’ of rail storage fees

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor |
Shippers want Congress to address their inability to challenge rail demurrage fees when they contract for merchant haulage, but finding a solution will be tricky, writes Journal of Commerce Executive Editor Mark Szakonyi.
Container Shipping NewsDrayageSurfaceInternational railTransport, Trade, and Regulation News

PSA inks China-Europe ‘middle corridor’ deal with Kazakhstan Railways

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe |
The Singapore-headquartered terminal operator has extended its reach deeper into the landside business, targeting the growing Central Asia rail freight market.
Rail NewsAsia-EuropeInternational rail

Late US produce season boosting spot reefer truckload rates 

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Pricing for refrigerated truckload service is shooting up along the US-Mexico border and outbound from California, in some cases by more than 20 cents per mile from April’s averages, as fruit and vegetable crops start moving to market.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

Pandemic-induced trailer dislocation still hampering US truckload carriers

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Trailer marketplace technology provider vHub estimates a quarter of truckload trailers are out of network for the nation’s carriers, with an abrupt shift in demand exacerbating that dislocation.
TruckloadTrucking NewsLogistics Technology News

Pandemic-level drop in Q1 demand hits European intermodal transport

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe |
A “perfect storm” of poor schedule reliability, persistently high electricity prices, weak demand and cheaper diesel for trucking continues to undermine Europe’s rail-dominated combined transport sector.
Rail NewsInternational railIntermodal providers

US-Mexico cross-border trucking expanding on manufacturing demand, nearshoring 

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Greater demand for manufactured goods, especially automotive parts, is spurring Mexico-to-US cross-border trucking, with more nearshoring of production on the horizon.
SurfaceTrucking News

Lower volumes translate into better North American intermodal service: survey

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Customers were largely satisfied with intermodal service in early 2023, citing CSX and J. B. Hunt as the top overall providers in North America, according to a Journal of Commerce biannual survey.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

Uber Freight’s Driegert jumps to Flexport to lead new brokerage unit

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Flexport has lured a key figure in the development of Uber Freight and Coyote Logistics in a move likely to shake up the domestic third-party logistics market.
Truck brokersForwardingLogistics Technology News

NITL lends support for move to give FMC oversight of rail storage fees

Teri Errico Griffis |
Rail storage has been at the forefront of recent regulatory discussion as the FMC solidifies its final rulemaking on detention and demurrage, with shippers wanting ocean carriers to be the billing party for such charges.
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsContainer Shipping NewsRail NewsNorth-American rail

BNSF to launch new Houston intermodal service in June

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
The railroad will start a twice-weekly service to Dallas and once-weekly service to Denver, but no ocean carrier as yet is offering inland moves from Houston.
North-American railNorth American portsIntermodal providers

Cargo fraud, theft surging in ‘wild west’ US truck market

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Many businesses are being forced to tighten controls over how goods are shipped and who they ship them with, but the technology that helps them may also be used against them, according to industry sources.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruck brokersSupply chain

Capacity oversupply keeps US truckload rates in decline

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Excess capacity is lingering in US freight markets because fewer carriers than expected have gone bankrupt so far this year, analysts say.
Truckload

FMC needs to take oversight of rail storage charges: shippers

Teri Errico Griffis |
Rail storage fees continue to be a point of contention for shippers and the National Shipping Advisory Committee wants the FMC to step up and take ownership.
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsContainer Shipping NewsRail NewsNorth-American rail

Western Canadian ports missing out on USWC cargo diversions: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting; and JOC analyst |
One might expect that Western Canadian ports have benefited from cargo bound for the US Midwest being diverted from the US West Coast to avoid potential labor disruption, but that has not been the case, notes analyst Larry Gross.
Container Shipping NewsLongshore laborNorth American portsIntermodal providers

US trucking adds jobs in April as manufacturing expands

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US trucking companies added jobs for the second straight month, but the employment wave hasn’t reached package delivery firms or warehouses.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckloadLTLTrucking labor

Weak Southern California port volumes hurting domestic intermodal

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has a direct impact on the domestic intermodal market, large intermodal providers say, which is why rail volumes were so poor in the first quarter.
North-American railNorth American ports

US shipping interests want FMC to regulate rail storage fees

Teri Errico Griffis |
Currently, there is no US regulatory agency with direct authority to oversee application of rail storage fees under ocean carriers’ through bills of lading and to determine whether those charges are assessed properly.
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsMaritimeContainer Shipping NewsSurfaceRail NewsNorth-American rail

Rail savings persisted in Q1, but were down from a year ago: ISI

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal shippers are saving less than a year ago, but they should anticipate that savings will increase in the months ahead as more annual contracts are signed.
North-American rail

Crowley, CN strike Mexico intermodal deal through Port of Mobile

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Jones Act carrier Crowley will offer a new international container service from Mexico’s Gulf Coast into Mobile that will use Canadian National for inland reach to the US Midwest and Canada.
Container Shipping NewsNorth American portsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Drayage rates fall sharply amid downturn in NY-NJ port volumes

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
New York-New Jersey port truckers who worked five days per week last year are now down to about half that amount, sending spot drayage rates well below levels seen in 2021 and 2022.
DrayageNorth American portsTrucking NewsTruck brokersIntermodal providers

TFI targets smaller LTL carriers for acquisition in US, Canada

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Canada’s largest trucking holding company is acquiring smaller LTL operators on both sides of the US border, expanding its network and services via “tuck-ins” in a soft freight market.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

NS to require appointments to pick up boxes at Memphis terminal

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Norfolk Southern Railway will institute a mandatory appointment system for truckers handling ocean containers at its Memphis terminal and plans to expand the requirement to Atlanta before the end of the year.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Mexico, Houston port volumes boosting US Southwest trucking: U.S. Bank

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Shippers are moving more freight in the US Southwest, and paying more to do so, despite weak trucking markets elsewhere in the country, according to U.S. Bank.
Trucking NewsNorth American portsTruckloadLTL

Court hands freight broker Convoy procedural win in legal battle with DAT

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Transportation observers believe the dueling complaints could have implications for the US spot truckload market because DAT is a primary source of available loads that brokers and carriers use to fill their pools of owned or third-party capacity.
Truck brokersTrucking NewsTruckloadLogistics Technology News

DHL Express plans US physical expansion, including delayed new hub

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
International air express carrier DHL is building out its US footprint to gain greater density and reach in its largest market, its CEO for the Americas says.
Supply chainTrucking NewsAir Cargo Carriers NewsIndustrial Real Estate News

Truckload appointment standards group adds heavyweights to drive adoption

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Echo Global Logistics, Coyote Logistics and prominent transportation management system vendors Oracle and e2open are among new members adding momentum to a truckload appointment scheduling initiative.
TruckloadTrucking NewsTruck brokersLogistics Technology News

Savannah wins environmental clearance for new inland terminal

Teri Errico Griffis |
The Georgia Ports Authority expects to begin construction on the approximately $170 million terminal in early 2024, which will have a focus on manufacturing imports and poultry exports.
North American portsPort NewsPort infrastructureNorth-American rail

Service levels to determine success in reshaped Mexico-US intermodal market

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Beyond the dynamics of the new partnerships, intermodal providers acknowledge that generating fresh cross-border business will be important for long-term growth to fill new containers, but only if the price is right.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

USDOT opens $160 million in funding to cut emissions from port truck idling

Teri Errico Griffis |
Funds will go to projects that focus on reducing emissions from port-related truck idling, particularly in communities adjacent to ports.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTransport, Trade, and Regulation News

Yellow looks to reopen Teamster contract, negotiate consolidation

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Yellow, the largest Teamsters employer in the US less-than-truckload sector, says it is willing to negotiate a new contract a year early as it tries to remove roadblocks to consolidating its network.
Trucking laborTrucking NewsLTL

UPS preps for flagging volumes with cuts in headcount, sort facilities

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Package volumes at the largest US package carrier by revenue fell farther than expected in the first quarter, especially in March, thanks to shifts in spending, UPS executives said. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsAir Cargo

Mexico intermodal market heats up with CPKC, UP deals

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
CPKC signed a deal with Swift Intermodal for a new daily train between central Mexico and Chicago less than 24 hours after Union Pacific announced a partnership with Canadian National and Ferromex.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Schneider-CPKC strike surprise deal on Mexico-US intermodal service

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Schneider National has inked a multiyear partnership with CPKC on intermodal service between Mexico and the US Midwest, a move that will provide new options for shippers seeking a single train to move their north-south freight.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Weekend chassis access becomes post-COVID sticking point in US

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Some truckers think it is unfair that shippers incur demurrage on weekends when railroads are open and chassis locations are closed, but it’s a complex issue without an easy answer.
North-American railIntermodal providers