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

Hapag-Lloyd takes over UK-based trucking company in multimodal expansion

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor |
The carrier is growing its multimodal footprint in the UK market to support its global maritime transport network.
Container linesTrucking News

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

Wilmington to add on-site transload facility in bid to pull new business

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor, and Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
The 25,000-square-foot facility, to be developed by East Coast drayage and logistics provider PortCity, is due to open at the North Carolina port by the end of March.
Trucking NewsNorth American portsDrayage

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

As Yellow ‘distortion’ fades, US LTL market searches for a catalyst

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US less-than-truckload pricing is moderating as waves of disruption caused by Yellow’s bankruptcy recede, fuel prices fall and demand remains soft. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

US truck shippers seen prizing stability, capacity in 2024 bids

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Growing shipper preference for longer-term contracts shows they believe the truckload market has hit bottom and are concerned about late-2024 capacity, analysts say. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

US LTL trucking market still in flux as freight shifts among carriers

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Large LTL carriers were the biggest winners from Yellow’s shutdown, but smaller regional carriers are making significant volume gains as well, according to SJ Consulting Group.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

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

Soft seasonal spot gains deflate US truckload expectations for rebound

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Shipper-paid spot rates rose only marginally in December and are likely to stay close to the bottom established over the last six months, absent a sharp increase in demand.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

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

Still-swollen US truckload capacity tamping down rate hikes

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
With the market still replete with carriers and trucks, shippers can expect to keep pricing power for most of 2024.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

US Labor Department resets guidelines on contractor, employee status

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Trucking groups will be lining up to challenge a Labor Department rulemaking that will change guidelines used to determine when a worker is a contractor or employee.
SurfaceTransport, Trade, and Regulation NewsDrayageTrucking NewsTruckload

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

US trucking workforce on edge of seasonal cliff after job losses

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
US trucking employment shrank last year, and seasonal trends point to more cuts in 2024 amid weak freight demand.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTrucking labor

3PL Kenco expands warehousing reach in key US markets

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The acquisition of The Shippers Group gives Kenco greater distribution capacity and underscores resilient demand for space and integrated logistics services despite a weak freight market.
SurfaceSupply chainTrucking NewsIndustrial Real Estate News

US chassis demand tepid amid ample units, additional manufacturers

Ari Ashe, Senior Editor |
Chassis lessors must work quickly to be prepared to unstack units when the international intermodal market rebounds.
Supply chainContainer Shipping NewsSurface

Yellow terminal auction redrawing US LTL map as pricing surge subsides

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
With more than 160 facilities still on the auction block, a sizable amount of less-than-truckload capacity once provided by Yellow is up for grabs as the trucking market slows in early 2024.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

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

California regulator gives temporary reprieve on zero-emission drayage enforcement

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor |
CARB is waiting for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to rule whether the clean fleets regulation the state adopted last April needs a waiver from the Clean Air Act before it goes into effect.
MaritimePort NewsNorth American portsTrucking News

A decade on, logistics industry still awaits proof that VC is a welcomed partner

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
None of the most prominent venture-backed names in logistics has had a successful exit yet, but perhaps patience is still required before the industry can say for sure if venture capital is a worthy funding route for company founders.
Logistics Technology NewsForwardingTruck brokersSupply chain

Expected Q1 drop in US trucking jobs not likely to move needle on pricing, capacity

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Larger trucking employers may be reluctant to lay off workers ahead of what they hope will be an uptick in freight demand this coming spring or summer. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckloadLTLTrucking labor

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

TFI gets even bigger role in heavy-haul trucking with $1.1 billion Daseke purchase

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The biggest trucking acquisition of 2023 gives Canada’s TFI an additional $1.8 billion in annual revenue and nearly 20 operating subsidiaries hauling oversized, heavy freight.
SurfaceProject cargoHeavy-haul transportTrucking NewsTruckloadFlatbed

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

Yellow sells 23 leased terminals to big LTL carriers for $82.9 million

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Six large US LTL carriers, led by Saia and Estes, acquired a small portion of Yellow’s remaining facilities at auction this week, keeping the lion’s share of properties sold to date out of the hands of developers.
SurfaceLTL

FedEx Freight keeping LTL gains from Yellow as market settles

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
While the largest US trucking company increased its daily volume 4.6% this fall following Yellow’s summertime collapse, year-over-year comparisons reveal a soft market. 
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

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

Retailers retooling supply chains amid lower demand, excess capacity

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
As conditions normalize, US retailers such as Dollar General are cutting unneeded resources, including temporary warehousing, while reinforcing their core business.
SurfaceSupply chainTrucking NewsIndustrial Real Estate News

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

Ongoing Yellow terminal auction seen reshaping a smaller US LTL sector

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Large LTL carriers are snapping up shuttered properties once owned by the bankrupt company, but US LTL capacity overall may shrink in 2024, industry experts warn.
SurfaceLTL

Software vendors seek opportunities in the smaller corners of logistics

Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor |
Cost and long implementation timelines are among the reasons software has been out of reach for smaller shippers, brokers and carriers, a dynamic that newer solutions providers are attempting to change.
Logistics Technology NewsTrucking NewsTruckloadTruck brokers

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

US truckload pricing expected to rise, but trajectory remains unclear

Ari Ashe and William B. Cassidy, Senior Editors |
Not all industry analysts believe a surge in demand is necessary for US truckload rates to rise in 2024, but some say capacity levels remain too high for a big move upward.
SurfaceTrucking NewsTruckload

Yellow attorneys quash ‘going concern’ bid for LTL network, equipment

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
An attempt to buy and revive some version of Yellow was called “not viable” after a terminal auction raised $1.9 billion from 22 bidders.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

FMC officer dismisses complaint against Hapag-Lloyd over street turn charge

Teri Errico Griffis, Associate Editor |
Motor carrier TCW was unable to prove that street turn fees violate US shipping law in one of the first test cases to see how the Federal Maritime Commission might regulate those charges.
Transport, Trade, and Regulation NewsContainer Shipping NewsContainer linesSurface

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

Bankrupt Yellow suspends auction of 147 leased terminals until Dec. 18

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
Suspending the auction of its remaining leased properties may give defunct LTL provider Yellow time to work out difficulties with landlords over the leases of potentially valuable properties.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

ODFL Q4 operating data underscores softness in US LTL trucking market

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor |
The second-largest US LTL provider saw daily shipments increase less than 1% year over year in November, signaling continued softness in underlying LTL demand as the post-Yellow market settles.
SurfaceTrucking NewsLTL

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