The Journal of Commerce’s analysis and coverage of North American and global rail news encompasses Class I railroad, intermodal marketing providers, and supporting drayage and truckload services. Reporting on freight railroad news today, journalists track volume, intermodal freight rates, service levels, precision schedule railroading, transloading, regulation, union labor and network investment at domestic and international intermodal terminals.

The latest Rail News & Analysis

Norfolk Southern teams with tech company to ease intermodal cargo flow

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 20, 2023, 3:36 PM EDT

The Class I railroad and DrayNow will launch an app in 2024 designed to digitize, organize and streamline processes that have previously been performed via email or over the phone.
Logistics technologyNorth-American rail

Ocean carriers will look to ‘chokepoint’ assets for next wave of spending: analyst

Lars Jensen, CEO & Partner, Vespucci Maritime, and JOC Analyst | Sep 18, 2023, 10:00 AM EDT

Owning and operating potential supply chain chokepoints is a competitive advantage, and we should expect to see major carriers — flush with cash post-pandemic — be very active in attempting to secure such assets, writes analyst Lars Jensen.
Supply ChainContainer linesPortsMarine terminalsRail

J.B. Hunt brokerage acquisition deepens partnership with BNSF

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor | Sep 15, 2023, 5:10 PM EDT

The division of BNSF Logistics between BNSF Railway and J.B. Hunt is aimed at helping to improve service to joint customers at a time when freight demand is weak.
Intermodal providersTruckingRail

Intermodal providers uncertain whether railroads are prepared for volume rebound

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 14, 2023, 12:34 PM EDT

Railroads told the IANA conference they have made important operational changes that will translate into reliable service when demand picks up, but some logistics companies are not convinced.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Railroads acknowledge need to boost service to win market share from trucking

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 13, 2023, 10:49 AM EDT

Railroads told the Intermodal Association of North America conference they must concentrate on providing more reliable, consistent service at a competitive rate over the long term to reverse the recent market share loss to long-haul trucking.
North-American rail

Rapid rail transit via sanctions-hit Russia has limited appeal for European shippers

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe | Sep 12, 2023, 10:57 AM EDT

Sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine continue to limit the attractiveness of transport times as low as 12 days offered by forwarders on the China-North Europe rail network.
RailForwardingInternational rail

Domestic intermodal showing more downside risk for balance of year: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting; and JOC analyst | Sep 12, 2023, 8:00 AM EDT

If the looming strike against the “big three” US automakers comes to pass, then domestic intermodal will surely take another big hit in an environment where there are certainly more downside risks than upside potential for the rest of 2023, writes analyst Larry Gross.
SurfaceRailIntermodal providers

Minor peak season expected in domestic intermodal market: Hub Group

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 8, 2023, 10:50 AM EDT

The intermodal provider’s CEO believes there will be a small peak season between now and early November despite data from the US Surface Transportation Board showing volumes are down compared with last year.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

IANA building geofencing for rail, marine terminals to track box, truck moves

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 8, 2023, 10:00 AM EDT

The Intermodal Association of North America is building a geofence library for rail and marine terminals, which could provide better tracking of when containers enter and exit the terminals.
North-American rail

Market interest ‘should be very high’ in DB Schenker sale: CEO

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe | Sep 6, 2023, 9:24 AM EDT

The German-based forwarder remains the largest and most attractive takeover target in a cash-rich industry where the main players are all looking for opportunities to consolidate.
MaritimeForwardingTruckingInternational railAir CargoAir cargo forwardingSupply Chain

BNSF deploying cameras, drones to boost terminal cargo flow

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Sep 1, 2023, 2:34 PM EDT

BNSF is testing the use of cameras on yard hostlers, poles and drones which can read and log the location of containers in the hopes of increasing fluidity through rail terminals.
North-American rail

Domestic intermodal volumes jump in early days of new Mexico rail services

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Aug 29, 2023, 3:08 PM EDT

Since new services from CPKC and CN were launched in May, intermodal volume out of Mexico has surged more than 30% year over year through the end of July.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Domestic container fluidity will pick up when volume rebounds: Schneider

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Aug 28, 2023, 3:00 PM EDT

Schneider believes once demand picks up for rail transportation, the intermodal industry can return to pre-pandemic levels of productivity for containers.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Pilot project aims to open more trucker slots in Los Angeles-Long Beach

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | Aug 25, 2023, 5:25 PM EDT

The Harbor Trucking Association is teaming with Yusen Terminals in Los Angeles to increase the number of appointment slots each day by cutting the container receiving window from two hours to 90 minutes.
North American portsMarine terminalsDrayageRail

NS delays Atlanta appointment system after Memphis rollout woes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Aug 23, 2023, 11:29 AM EDT

Norfolk Southern’s launch of an appointment system for import boxes in Memphis has not been smooth, but the railroad hopes to learn from the problems to make the October rollout in Atlanta better.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Intermodal savings slip in second quarter, but could rise in Q3: ISI

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Aug 22, 2023, 10:54 AM EDT

Truckload spot rates have risen slightly off the lows seen so far this year, although some trucking analysts do not expect a significant rebound in rates until early 2024.
North-American railIntermodal Savings Index

Shippers all over the map on H2 business outlook: J. B. Hunt

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Aug 17, 2023, 11:35 AM EDT

While shippers using J. B. Hunt give conflicting answers on what the rest of this year will look like, the intermodal provider is strengthening its relationship with BNSF to prepare for the next upswing in demand.
North-American rail

Market share holds key to recovery for US intermodal, truckload: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting; and JOC analyst | Aug 7, 2023, 10:40 AM EDT

Regardless of where demand for intermodal and truckload freight transport moves over the coming months, the industry holds the key to its destiny in its own hands, writes analyst Larry Gross. 
Intermodal providersSurfaceTruckingRailNorth-American rail

Hot summer turning up climate change heat on supply chains

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor | Aug 2, 2023, 12:47 PM EDT

Familiar reminders of the disruptions to supply chains caused by climate change, such as low water levels on the Rhine River and in the Panama Canal and wildfires in North America, are becoming more frequent and intense.
Supply ChainContainer shippingPort infrastructureRailNorth-American rail

Union Pacific appoints Jim Vena as CEO amid focus on ‘improving service’

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor | Jul 26, 2023, 2:22 PM EDT

After UP’s 2022 performance failed to meet the expectations of shareholders, an activist investor called for current CEO Lance Fritz to be replaced by Vena, who had previously served as the railroad’s chief operating officer.
North-American railSurfaceRail

Western Canada port backlog to take weeks to clear: Canadian National

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor | Jul 26, 2023, 12:00 PM EDT

CN said it will take up to eight weeks to clear the cargo backlog at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert as the industry waits to see if ILWU Canada’s rank and file will accept terms of the tentative deal reached last week.
North-American railContainer shippingTrans-PacificNorth American portsIntermodal providers

Technology providers partner to improve breakbulk rail tracking

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor | Jul 19, 2023, 1:24 PM EDT

The desire to improve rail and intermodal visibility for bulk and breakbulk customers has led transportation management software provider IntelliTrans to partner with hardware vendor Nexxiot.
Logistics technologyRailNorth-American railSupply Chain

J.B. Hunt says intermodal peak season outlook murky despite June momentum

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jul 19, 2023, 1:06 PM EDT

That mismatch between container supply and demand has forced intermodal providers to stack boxes, with J.B. Hunt saying it parked about 18% of its container fleet in the first half of the year.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

Chassis repairs causing short-term shortages in Chicago

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jul 13, 2023, 11:17 AM EDT

Truckers are having difficulty locating available chassis in Chicago because many units have been taken off the street to be serviced after heavy usage over the last two years.

Wholesale weakness slowing US inventory destocking, freight demand

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor | Jul 12, 2023, 10:59 AM EDT

US businesses may have passed the inventory peak, but data shows stockpiles remain high, and a weak wholesale retail market is depressing imports and surface freight shipments.
SurfaceContainer shippingTruckingRailSupply Chain

Trudeau’s resolve in spotlight with Western Canadian ports on brink of strike

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor | Jun 29, 2023, 3:25 PM EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is generally viewed within the Canadian shipping industry as having acted too slowly — and weakly — when containerized supply chains were significantly disrupted over the last three years, notes Journal of Commerce Executive Editor Mark Szakonyi.
Longshore laborTrans-PacificNorth American portsRail

CPKC inks deal with Hapag-Lloyd to boost Mexico intermodal play

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 29, 2023, 1:44 PM EDT

The railroad said the partnership with the ocean carrier is designed to attract cargo owners who may want to avoid Southern California or are looking for a shorter transit for freight destined for the US Gulf Coast.
North-American rail

CPKC-CSX ink deal to provide second rail speedway on Gulf Coast

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 28, 2023, 11:44 AM EDT

The link would offer an alternative to the Meridian Speedway that pre-merger Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern Railway have partnered on since 2006.
RailIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Intermodal providers slash rates for low-volume shippers to boost business

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 27, 2023, 1:41 PM EDT

Union Pacific and BNSF partner COFC Logistics are cutting contractual rates on low-volume shippers through the end of the year in a bid to spur demand in a weakened domestic intermodal market.
North-American rail

CPKC, Americold team up on temperature-controlled intermodal warehouses

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 22, 2023, 11:01 AM EDT

Canadian Pacific Kansas City is continuing to invest in temperature-controlled intermodal as part of its Mexico-to-US offerings via a new partnership with warehouse provider Americold Logistics.
North-American rail

Inefficiency, cost holding back UK domestic rail freight: shippers

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe | Jun 15, 2023, 9:20 AM EDT

While demand for domestic rail freight in the UK grows, the network’s ability to handle the more complex smaller shipments has been criticized by cargo owners.
RailInternational railIntermodal providers

Temperature-controlled intermodal provider Tiger Cool closes: source

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 14, 2023, 11:08 AM EDT

Tiger Cool Express was an innovator in the intermodal industry, one of the first to fully embrace containerized reefer intermodal when it began ramping up operations in late 2013.
Intermodal providers

Norfolk Southern gets $5 million grant to improve Detroit intermodal ramp

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | Jun 13, 2023, 4:35 PM EDT

Norfolk Southern is a step closer to consolidating its Michigan intermodal business at one site after receiving a grant from the state for improvements at the Livernois yard.
North-American railIntermodal providers

CSX looks to dismiss Hapag-Lloyd complaint amid FMC oversight question

Teri Errico Griffis | Jun 8, 2023, 10:19 AM EDT

While the FMC has jurisdiction over ocean carriers, it cannot regulate railroads simply because of their association with container lines, CSX said in a motion to disentangle itself from a demurrage complaint.
Transport, trade and regulationContainer shippingContainer linesSurfaceRailNorth-American rail

ILWU Canada threatens strike at Vancouver, Prince Rupert

Journal of Commerce staff | Jun 5, 2023, 5:39 PM EDT

ILWU Canada rank-and-file will vote later this week on whether to issue a 72-hour strike notice, raising the unprecedented prospect of disruption on Canada’s West Coast amid job actions by labor along the US West Coast.
Longshore laborContainer shippingTrans-PacificPortsNorth American portsNorth-American rail

Norfolk Southern eases free time, demurrage restrictions on ocean boxes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 31, 2023, 2:29 PM EDT

The railroad is reducing demurrage fees and restoring additional free time that was eliminated in the past two years as international intermodal volumes have fallen sharply from East Coast ports.
RailNorth American portsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

New UP intermodal service from Houston to provide West Coast reach

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | May 30, 2023, 5:02 PM EDT

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 shippingNorth American portsIntermodal providers

CPKC adds new reefer containers to Mexico-US service

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 30, 2023, 1:06 PM EDT

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

Shippers hold onto intermodal boxes amid warehouse reshuffling: survey

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 25, 2023, 3:49 PM EDT

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

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

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor | May 24, 2023, 11:44 AM EDT

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 shippingDrayageSurfaceInternational railTransport, trade and regulation