Rail News

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

J.B. Hunt veteran Shelley Simpson tapped as company’s next CEO

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Simpson will become the first woman to take the top job at J.B. Hunt, something many in the industry expected to happen after she was named president 18 months ago.
Intermodal providers

Norfolk Southern fires back at activist investor looking to unseat CEO

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The railroad told shareholders in a lengthy proxy statement that CEO Alan Shaw is on the right path and urged investors to trust in his vision for the company rather than vote to replace him.
North-American rail

J.B. Hunt signs multiyear deal with Walmart, acquires container fleet

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
While the two companies have a partnership dating back 35 years, the latest transaction strengthens the relationship between the largest intermodal provider in North America and one of the continent’s top intermodal shippers.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

NS to eliminate Midwest service from Charleston, Savannah due to low volumes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Railroad officials informed Georgia and South Carolina port authorities earlier this week, giving them a one-month notice that service will no longer be offered to Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville.
North American portsNorth-American rail

Activist investor seeks to oust CEO at ‘worst’ Class I railroad Norfolk Southern

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
In addition to pushing for a leadership change, Ancora Holdings also said NS should not invest so heavily in intermodal under its current strategy and criticized the railroad for changing 180 train schedules last year to prioritize container and trailer business.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

Another Mexico intermodal option launches for shippers amid cross-border growth

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Shippers will have another domestic intermodal option between Mexico and the US as cross-border intermodal growth outpaces the overall North American market.
North-American railIntermodal providers

New short-haul rail service debuts linking Tacoma to inland hub

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
The first shipments of hay were loaded into Evergreen containers at the inland hub and moved by Union Pacific to the Pierce County Terminal in Tacoma for shipment to China.
MaritimePort NewsNorth American portsRail News

FMC rules for truckers in chassis dispute with ocean carriers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The long-awaited decision also seemingly puts to rest the question as to whether the FMC has authority on issues that extend beyond US ports.
North American portsNorth-American rail

Mexican systems failures disrupting cross-border trade with US

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The failure of Mexican customs clearance systems at a national level this week snarled supply chains and may warn of future problems as US-Mexico trade grows. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsIntermodal providers

Mobile teams up with CSX on new inland port to serve northern Alabama

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
The Port of Mobile is looking to boost intrastate rail service with a new intermodal ramp that would give shippers an alternative to using rail from major Southeast ports.
North American portsContainer Shipping NewsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Intermodal savings held steady in Q4, in line with long-term averages

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The average cost savings for a shipper choosing intermodal rail over truckload was consistent during 2023 and should be relatively unchanged at least through the first quarter, according to the latest Journal of Commerce Intermodal Savings Index.
Intermodal Savings IndexIntermodal providers

Railroads maintain ‘go it alone’ strategy after CPKC merger: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting and Journal of Commerce analyst |
North American intermodal functions mainly as a set of regional networks defined by railroad route structures, one of the handicaps for intermodal as it competes against a “go-anywhere” national truck system, writes analyst Larry Gross.
SurfaceIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Norfolk Southern canceling, rerouting traffic on some intermodal lanes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The railroad is eliminating or adjusting service in four cities this month in a move to shift resources to corridors where it believes freight will surge over the next decade.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Shippers should not push too hard on intermodal rates in Q1: Schneider, Hub

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Domestic intermodal providers have stacked thousands of containers and are warning they will keep capacity out of circulation even when demand picks up unless shippers are willing to pay higher rates.
SurfaceIntermodal providers

DSV volume stabilizes in Q4 to deliver solid 2023 result

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe |
While down significantly from 2022, the forwarder remained profitable last year as fourth-quarter gains helped dull the full-year impact of sharply correcting global freight markets.
MaritimeAir CargoContainer Shipping NewsForwardingIntermodal providers

Domestic carriers wade through murky market to start 2024

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
North American railroads and truckload companies are hopeful rates and demand will rise this year but say there’s too much uncertainty in the market to offer a confident forecast.
North-American railTrucking News

Week-long German rail strike to spill across Northern Europe

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe |
An ongoing pay dispute between a German rail workers’ union will see train drivers, signalers and dispatchers embarking on a strike that will have regional ramifications.
SurfaceContainer linesInternational portsInternational rail

Peak season intermodal volumes up, but rate hikes not imminent: J. B. Hunt

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Neither J. B. Hunt nor its shippers anticipated a 6% rise in intermodal volumes in the fourth quarter, but it’s unlikely that will drive higher contract rates in early 2024.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

Red Sea disruption drives Asia-Europe shippers to air, rail alternatives

Greg Knowler, Senior Editor Europe |
While the available capacity offered by air and rail is nowhere near that of ocean, the modes give cargo owners an alternative transport option for their more urgent shipments.
Rail NewsForwardingAsia-EuropeInternational railAir Cargo

International intermodal volumes to rebound slightly in 2024

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
IPI growth could accelerate if external events such as longshore contract negotiations on the East and Gulf coasts or further restrictions on vessels transiting the Panama Canal prompt a significant shift in import volumes to the West Coast.
SurfaceIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Stronger intermodal service in H2 leads to high customer satisfaction: survey

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The Journal of Commerce’s biannual Intermodal Service Scorecard found customers were more satisfied with their domestic intermodal service in the second half of 2023 even as railroads handled more containers in the back half of the year.
Domestic Intermodal Service ScorecardIntermodal providers

Border crossing reliability a hot topic in Mexico intermodal contract talks

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
While companies that use the crossing at Eagle Pass are seeking to reassure existing and potential customers, competitors using Laredo, where no closures have occurred, are wasting no opportunity to talk up that route’s relative reliability.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Domestic intermodal recovery forecast to continue after 2023 decline

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Although the 2023 peak season was more muted than during the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall decline was not as severe as some feared.
SurfaceIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Freight transport’s ‘new normal’ marked by slower growth

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Lower consumer demand for imports and domestic goods reshaped international and US freight markets in 2023.
Supply chainContainer Shipping NewsSurfaceTrucking NewsNorth-American railAir Cargo

Mexico-US rail shipments resume after CBP reopens Eagle Pass, El Paso crossings

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The move comes after several days of pressure from shipper groups who expressed concerns over the economic impact of the closures so close to Christmas.
North-American railIntermodal providers

CPKC implements embargo on Mexico-bound empty containers in Laredo

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
With CPKC competitors BNSF and UP unable to send or receive cargo because of the border closures at El Paso and Eagle Pass, they might be tempted to send containers through CPKC’s still-opened Laredo crossing.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Latest Texas border closures cloud reliability of Mexico-US intermodal service

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Intermodal marketing companies told the Journal of Commerce they are concerned about their ability to sell rail options to shippers if there is a prolonged closure at Eagle Pass and El Paso.
North-American railIntermodal providers

US retailers increase import forecast amid expectations for ‘record’ holiday sales

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
A strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday, coupled with rosy sales expectations, are spurring US retailers to boost their import forecasts for early 2024, according to the National Retail Federation.
Trans-PacificContainer linesMarine terminalsNorth American portsNorth-American rail

North American intermodal headed for down year, but ‘green shoots’ exist: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and Journal of Commerce analyst |
The fundamentals for intermodal demand in 2024 appear to be improving in several important respects, according to analyst Larry Gross, though some adverse long-term fundamentals remain in place.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

Domestic intermodal ‘havoc’ could give way to growth period: analyst

Ted Prince, founder and CEO, Tri-Cities Intermodal LLC  |
While the domestic intermodal market may have been in turmoil for the last several years, all stakeholders look ready to support continued growth, writes Ted Prince.
Intermodal providers

GPA lines up final funding for Northeast Georgia inland rail terminal

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
The Blue Ridge Connector will have 18,000 feet of working track and an annual lift capacity of up to 200,000 containers while providing shippers with an all-rail service from Savannah.
North American portsContainer Shipping NewsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Southern California agency to unilaterally develop emissions cut rules at rail yards

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
The South Coast Air Quality Management District says it will create rules to reduce emissions at Southern California rail yards because Union Pacific insists on including public financing as a precondition for participating in the more collaborative MOU process.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

UP boosts intermodal service with new Houston connections, Phoenix ramp

Michael Angell, Associate Editor and Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The Class I railroad sees an opportunity to tap growth at the Gulf Coast’s busiest port with new intermodal lanes, while expanding its inland reach from Los Angeles and Long Beach.
North-American railNorth American portsIntermodal providers

Ashcroft Terminal to expand railcar storage to alleviate Vancouver congestion

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
The project, in coordination with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, is due to be completed in late 2024 and will help move cargo faster through Western Canada.
North-American railTrans-PacificNorth American portsPort infrastructure

Soft US import volumes crimping container availability for agricultural exports

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
With peak season at hand for ag exports, shippers say weak US import volumes have constrained the supply of repositioned containers they need to send goods overseas, risking disruption to their supply chains.
MaritimeContainer linesNorth American portsNorth-American rail

New logistics center under construction to tap into Port of Savannah’s growth

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
The four-phase, seven-building project with CSX rail connections will support the growing needs of importers and exporters using the port.
Industrial Real Estate NewsNorth American portsNorth-American rail

 Congress steps into debate over jurisdiction of rail fees for ocean containers

Michael Angell, Associate Editor |
Draft legislation would also seek to codify that rail demurrage fees be billed to the ocean carrier, which would then pass along the charge to the responsible shipper or BCO. .
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsContainer Shipping NewsContainer linesIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

Railroads creating new services to win back market share from trucking

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
While the moves are considered more of a rejuvenation than a renaissance, railroads are doing a more effective job juggling the interests of investors while providing new products to serve shippers.
North-American railIntermodal providers

Intermodal savings poised to remain steady through end of the year: ISI 

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Shippers saved nearly 26% using domestic intermodal instead of highway options in the third quarter, approximately in line with long-term averages.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail

J. B. Hunt shakes up Mexico-US intermodal market with Ferromex deal

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The largest US domestic intermodal provider will no longer partner with CPKC on cross-border loads destined for the Midwest and West Coast, in the latest shifting of alliances on new services between Mexico and the US.
Intermodal providersNorth-American rail