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

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

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting; and JOC analyst |
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 providersSurfaceTrucking NewsRail NewsNorth-American rail

Hot summer turning up climate change heat on supply chains

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor |
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 Shipping NewsPort infrastructureRail NewsNorth-American rail

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

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
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 News

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

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor |
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 Shipping NewsTrans-PacificNorth American portsIntermodal providers

Technology providers partner to improve breakbulk rail tracking

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
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 Technology NewsRail NewsNorth-American railSupply chain

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

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
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 |
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.
SurfaceTrucking NewsRail News

Wholesale weakness slowing US inventory destocking, freight demand

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
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 Shipping NewsTrucking NewsRail NewsSupply chain

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

Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor |
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 News

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

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
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 |
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.
Rail NewsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

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

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
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 |
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 |
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.
Rail NewsInternational railIntermodal providers

Temperature-controlled intermodal provider Tiger Cool closes: source

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
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 |
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 |
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 Regulation NewsContainer Shipping NewsContainer linesSurfaceRail NewsNorth-American rail

ILWU Canada threatens strike at Vancouver, Prince Rupert

Journal of Commerce staff |
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 Shipping NewsTrans-PacificPort NewsNorth American portsNorth-American rail

Norfolk Southern eases free time, demurrage restrictions on ocean boxes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
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.
Rail NewsNorth American portsIntermodal providersNorth-American rail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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