International Rail

International Rail

Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (e.g., rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. This results in lower cargo-handling costs while improving security, and reducing damages and losses.

Intermodal rail — the transportation of shipping containers and truck trailers by rail — enables railroads to provide their customers with cost-effective, environmentally friendly service for almost anything that can be loaded into a truck or a container. Shippers benefit from the flexible service that trucks provide, at the competitive rates that only rail intermodal can offer. The general public benefits from a reduction in highway congestion and harmful emissions and from the reduced cost of moving goods to market via intermodal.

Starting with the advent of the modern shipping container in the 1950s, freight railroads in the US have invested heavily to build a world-class intermodal rail network. Rail-owned, US domestic containers comprise nearly one-third of the total domestic container population.

The vast bulk of these containers have been in two fleets:

EMP, a domestic interline container program created by Union Pacific Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railway; and UMAX, a domestic interline container program created by CSX Intermodal and Union Pacific, which provides customers access to thousands of 53-foot containers for intermodal marketing companies, motor carriers, freight brokers, truckload, parcel, and less-than-truckload customers.

The remaining two-thirds of the fleet are privately owned units, operated by such companies as J.B. Hunt, Hub Group, and the like. The rail-owned fleets cater to non-asset carriers, while the private fleets are typically operated by integrated intermodal carriers.

New and expanded intermodal terminals at ports and inland are using advanced technologies to transfer containers to and from trucks in minutes. Additional track capacity and advanced signaling systems allow for faster, more frequent intermodal trains. Bridge and tunnel improvements accommodate the additional height required by double-stack trains.

 Timely JOC coverage of this sector provides the latest news, data and analysis about how such developments are affecting not only the intermodal rail sector itself, but also impacting shippers, transportation service providers and other stakeholders in the US and elsewhere around the world.

 

Commentary

Working with a third-party purchase order management solutions provider can give shippers the volume to secure the rates and capacity they need, as well as added flexibility and efficiency in their supply chains when combined with transportation, logistics, warehousing, consolidation, and customs services.

News & Analysis

24 Jun 2019
The front-loading of Chinese imports to avoid tariffs is disrupting US less-than-truckload distribution networks, forcing reallocation of resources.
24 Jun 2019
ILWU Canada overwhelmingly approved a new contract for the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, which should guarantee labor peace pending approval from the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association.
24 Jun 2019
Summary: Carriers need low-sulfur fuel to be available in key bunkering ports around the world, but supply uncertainty remains.
24 Jun 2019
Analysis of automated terminals by a Moffatt & Nichol engineer finds the capex cost of constructing an auto-strad terminal like APM is developing in Los Angeles is one-third that of a fully-automated terminal such as Middle Harbor in Long Beach, but the auto-strad terminal has 49 percent lower throughput per acre, which limits terminal capacity.
24 Jun 2019
Continued depressed pricing has caused service levels in the refrigerated cargo market to deteriorate, but BCOs say there are other issues that need addressing as well.
21 Jun 2019
With imports from China softening and prospects for the peak season looking somewhat dismal, carriers have already announced three blank sailings, with chatter among carriers indicating additional voided sailings could occur in July and August.
21 Jun 2019
A veteran executive with more than 35 years of experience will take the helm of the AAPA this Fall.
21 Jun 2019
Truckload carriers surveyed by Cowen & Co. are banking on a stronger second half and expect contract rates to rise 2.7 percent on average over the next six months.
21 Jun 2019
Supply chain technologies carry a disproportionate importance in emerging markets, where administrative and physical waste creates extra cost for shippers and end consumers.
21 Jun 2019
Rising cargo volumes have prompted the Port of Montreal to seek proposals from its two existing terminal operators for the planned new Contrecoeur terminal in order to hasten its completion.
20 Jun 2019
Sponsored: CargoSphere Managing Director Neil Barni on his company's approach to bringing digital innovation to the area of rate analysis.
20 Jun 2019
A sharp decline in shipper spending and freight volumes causes some to sound the recession alarm, but others still see slower growth, not steep decline, amid tariff threats.
20 Jun 2019
Amid intense scrutiny from longshore unions throughout North America, the LA harbor commission on Thursday approved a construction permit at APM Terminals Pier 400 that will open the door to a scalable type of automation that could be incorporated into smaller terminal operations in other ports.
20 Jun 2019
Sponsored: AGL's Jon Slangerup on carriers moving into the forwarding space and the impact that encroaching is having on relationships within an industry that relies on trust.
20 Jun 2019
Asian manufacturing shifts and the rising cost of fuel are influencing all-water US East Coast services.
20 Jun 2019
A new Canada customs inspection facility close to the Port of Vancouver is expected to reduce truck congestion and expedite security inspections at Canada’s largest port.
20 Jun 2019
The unique characteristics and low margins of the drayage market mean it has been slower to adopt technologies that have gotten traction in other over-the-road segments, but marketplaces are starting to percolate.
20 Jun 2019
The alliance between India’s containerized rail leader and digital startup could signal the future of supply chain logistics in the country.
20 Jun 2019
Biofuel has been used in a second container shipping test, and the results have been positive for an industry facing an urgent need to decarbonize.
20 Jun 2019
The 90-day suspension from the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism means the container line will no longer enjoy “trusted trader” status, increasing the likelihood of import shipment delays.
19 Jun 2019
Strong demand for warehouse space fueled by booming e-commerce and the third-party logistics providers that serve it means high levels of warehouse development have not lowered vacancy rates, or made it easier for shippers to find space.
19 Jun 2019
Drayage operators urge agricultural shippers to use their influence as cargo owners to get other port stakeholders on board with efforts to improve truck turn times at marine terminals and rail hubs.
19 Jun 2019
Many of the communications systems knocked out by a ransomware attack against A. Duie Pyle have been restored. But the attack signals a growing cyber threat.
19 Jun 2019
Ike, a developer of automated trucks led by veterans of Uber, Google and Apple, says ATs are entering a new phase, but still many years from widespread use.
19 Jun 2019
Effectively addressing the low-sulfur surcharge that will be imposed by the IMO from Jan. 1, 2020 requires including shippers in an industry-wide partnership.
19 Jun 2019
Despite a downturn in volume, freight shippers say intermodal remains a critical component of their supply chains even as technology is poised to lower truck costs.
19 Jun 2019
Price continues to confound the container shipping industry as it prepares for the IMO’s 2020 low-sulfur mandate.
18 Jun 2019
Logistics growth is moderating, but shipper of choice programs are surviving because lower rates won't guarantee on-time delivery, speakers at the CSCMP State of Logistics Report launch said.
18 Jun 2019
Truckers will soon be required to make an appointment any time they call on GCT Bayonne in the Port of New York and New Jersey during the workday as the window in which appointments are needed expands by another three hours.
18 Jun 2019
Port cargo volumes rising by mid-single digits and limited space have forced shippers to take space in warehouse areas that are increasingly distant from the Port of New York-New Jersey.
18 Jun 2019
Marine industry leaders testified before the Section 301 Committee to lobby against a 25 percent tariff on shipping containers and ship-to-shore cranes, repeating many of the arguments made a year ago about the business fallouts.
18 Jun 2019
Concor looks to potentially expand its short-sea network, even beyond India. It has its eyes on the Bangladesh transshipment market.
17 Jun 2019
Eleven major banks representing 20 percent of the global shipping finance portfolio have signed off on a framework agreement aimed at aligning investors with the IMO’s 2050 mandate to cut CO2 emissions 50 percent from 2008 levels.
17 Jun 2019
Tendering activity to ease lackluster ‘summer slowdown’
17 Jun 2019
Agriculture exporters urged to do due diligence on the increased costs involved in IMO low-sulfur fuel before they enter contract negotiations with carriers in the fall.