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

Chassis shortage forces NS to adjust rules on free time, container fees

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 7, 2022, 1:28 PM EDT

The chassis shortage is affecting Norfolk Southern despite a 5.1 percent decline in volumes handled by the railroad between January and May compared with the same period in 2021.
North-American rail

US DOT gives funds to Georgia inland port rail upgrades

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | Jun 2, 2022, 4:46 PM EDT

The US Department of Transportation awarded Georgia $6 million to improve tracks that connect Savannah with the state’s first inland port.
North-American rail

Schneider-UP pitch new partnership directly to shippers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Jun 2, 2022, 1:10 PM EDT

Union Pacific Railroad and Schneider National have engaged intermodal shippers in recent weeks to discuss their new partnership and attempt to dispel any concerns about service disruptions during the transition from BNSF.
North-American rail

China-Europe ‘middle’ rail corridor has long-term potential: Maersk

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Jun 1, 2022, 11:58 AM EDT

The only real option at present for rail cargo from China to Europe is the so-called “middle corridor,” even though the transit is often longer than ocean and 30 percent more expensive than the largely out-of-bounds northern alternative through Russia.
International rail

CP inks deal to move CMA CGM volumes in Canada

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor | May 31, 2022, 5:24 PM EDT

A new multi-year agreement will allow Canadian Pacific to handle the majority of CMA CGM’s freight through Canada, underscoring the railroad’s aggressive approach to gaining international intermodal volume.
International rail

BNSF addressing congestion in Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 27, 2022, 4:25 PM EDT

BNSF Railway is congested in Chicago, Memphis, and Kansas City with not enough chassis to move ocean containers, but the railroad is taking several measures to alleviate the congestion.
North-American rail

UP says marine chassis supply is thin, stacking boxes necessary

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 27, 2022, 4:13 PM EDT

Union Pacific Railroad is warning that chassis supply could get tight soon in several US markets and it will not allow shippers to use their own private chassis if DCLI, TRAC Intermodal, and Flexi-Van Leasing run out of equipment.
North-American rail

Lagging long-term growth a red flag for intermodal: analyst

Lawrence Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst | May 26, 2022, 5:27 PM EDT

That growth in trucking volumes has outpaced that of intermodal over the past seven years should be cause for concern for the intermodal industry, writes Larry Gross, president and founder of Gross Transportation Consulting and a JOC analyst.

NS chassis shortage affecting Pennsylvania shippers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 25, 2022, 1:02 PM EDT

Domestic containers have been idling in a Norfolk Southern terminal in eastern Pennsylvania because of a chassis shortage, but the railroad said it is delivering new equipment to the region and repositioning chassis from other markets to deal with the disruption.
North-American rail

NS crane repairs to address spotty service in Jacksonville

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 24, 2022, 4:24 PM EDT

Norfolk Southern Railway is hopeful that intermodal service in Jacksonville, which has been inconsistent since January 2021, will improve as damaged cranes are repaired in the next two months.
North-American rail

NS reducing IPI export service to West Coast ports

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 20, 2022, 3:03 PM EDT

Norfolk Southern Railway is reducing service on 120 international intermodal lanes to simplify its network and improve service, but some companies are worried it will harm exporters and chassis supply.
North-American rail

Chassis struggles return to Chicago despite lower demand

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 16, 2022, 2:33 PM EDT

Chassis shortages are disrupting rail ramps in Chicago for the second consecutive year, but cargo flow through other inland markets outside the Upper Midwest is more fluid than a year ago.
North-American rail

JOC ISI: Q1 contract rail rates provided big savings

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | May 5, 2022, 2:01 PM EDT

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

UP realigning SoCal domestic intermodal network

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Apr 27, 2022, 12:44 PM EDT

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 | Apr 27, 2022, 12:32 PM EDT

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

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

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | Apr 26, 2022, 4:48 PM EDT

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 | Apr 26, 2022, 12:38 PM EDT

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

BNSF partner COFC Logistics buying 5,500 domestic containers 

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Apr 22, 2022, 2:27 PM EDT

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

UP, CSX blame labor shortage for volume, service declines

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Apr 21, 2022, 3:21 PM EDT

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

STB approves CSX acquisition of Pan Am Railways

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | Apr 15, 2022, 3:40 PM EDT

 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 | Apr 15, 2022, 2:17 PM EDT

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 | Apr 15, 2022, 12:32 PM EDT

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

Domestic intermodal sector struggling to regain footing: analyst

Larry Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst | Apr 12, 2022, 11:45 AM EDT

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.

BNSF struggling to deliver ocean boxes from Los Angeles to Chicago

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Apr 8, 2022, 4:58 PM EDT

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 | Apr 8, 2022, 11:35 AM EDT

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

Congestion at KCS Dallas ramp causing month-long delays

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Apr 6, 2022, 3:24 PM EDT

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

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

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Apr 6, 2022, 12:28 PM EDT

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

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

Michael Angell, Associate Editor | Apr 1, 2022, 12:21 PM EDT

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 | Mar 31, 2022, 1:57 PM EDT

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 | Mar 29, 2022, 11:24 AM EDT

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.

Latest US import surge tightens inland chassis pools

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 25, 2022, 3:40 PM EDT

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

Norfolk Southern Jacksonville terminal disrupted again after crane fire

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 23, 2022, 2:04 PM EDT

Norfolk Southern Railway is again restricting container traffic at its Jacksonville terminal, this time after a crane fire earlier this week.
North-American rail

NS resolves latest in string of Jacksonville disruptions

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 17, 2022, 5:01 PM EDT

Norfolk Southern Railway has struggled to maintain fluid operations in Jacksonville for more than a year, with the latest disruption involving chassis shortages, late-arriving trains, and overhead cranes breaking down.
North-American rail

BNSF-JB Hunt enhance partnership to replace Schneider, Swift volumes

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 16, 2022, 3:31 PM EDT

J.B. Hunt Transport Services will grow its box fleet by 40 percent to 150,000 containers within three to five years as it seeks to win market share from Union Pacific Railroad and its intermodal partners.
North-American rail

China-Europe rail under threat as shippers exit Russian route

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Mar 16, 2022, 1:40 PM EDT

For China-Europe rail shippers, there are precious few alternatives to the northern corridor that passes through Russia and Belarus and handles almost all the volume moved on the land bridge.
International rail

Private container fleets herald ‘new era’ for US domestic intermodal: analyst

Lawrence Gross, president and founder, Gross Transportation Consulting, and JOC analyst | Mar 11, 2022, 11:00 AM EST

Trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC) volumes have been fading away for years and may be nearing the end game as a “tidal wave” of new private 53-foot containers enters the US domestic intermodal system, according to JOC analyst Lawrence Gross.
Intermodal providers

CP’s volume, delays rising ahead of possible strike

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 10, 2022, 3:11 PM EST

Shippers are frontloading cargo on Canadian Pacific Railway ahead of a potential Teamsters strike on March 16, causing a surge in volume and delays getting containers onto trains.
North-American rail

CP-KCS run first joint Mexico-to-Chicago train

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor | Mar 9, 2022, 4:13 PM EST

Canadian Pacific Railway and Kansas City Southern have run their first-ever Mexico to US Midwest international intermodal train together as the US Surface Transportation Board reviews the merger of the two railroads.
North-American rail

Asia-Europe rail cargo under pressure with Belarus booking suspensions

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Mar 4, 2022, 2:04 PM EST

The land bridge rail network between Asia and North Europe, a popular alternative to ocean shipping, is now restricted as carriers suspend bookings to a key rail hub in Belarus.
International rail

Disruption forcing US importers to take greater control of landside logistics

William B. Cassidy, Ari Ashe, and Bill Mongelluzzo | Mar 2, 2022, 9:30 AM EST

As container lines pull back on inland point intermodal (IPI), US importers are rethinking their landside delivery plans and containerized freight is moving further inland before being deconsolidated.