Intermodal markets: Volumes on track, service slips

Tight trucking capacity continues to boost intermodal volumes out of Southern California, where volumes have recovered to a much greater extent than in Chicago, New York/New Jersey, or Savannah, Georgia. Most of the blank sailings on the eastbound trans-Pacific lane are behind us; container volumes at West Coast ports should

By |July 1st, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal Markets: Volumes getting better and better

Intermodal volumes are bouncing back to the low levels of 2019, and U.S. Class I railroads are recovering faster than their neighbors to the north and south. We believe that intermodal volumes will continue to rise, especially on the West Coast, as the number of blank sailings scheduled diminishes going

By |June 24th, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal Markets: Starting to look cheap again

Intermodal volumes and rates are weak compared to 2019, which was weak compared to 2018. That fundamental picture hasn’t changed, but it now appears that activity in trucking markets is providing some lift to intermodal. Intermodal volumes last week were down just 7.3% year-over-year (y/y), substantially better than the four-week

By |June 17th, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal markets: L.A. turns up again

Intermodal volumes continue to outperform the trailing 4-week average, and there are a few reasons why we believe this trend will continue. First, shippers are running into capacity issues getting freight out of China, reflected in Freightos Baltic Index spot rates for 40’ containers from China to the West Coast.

By |June 10th, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal markets: grinding upward

Intermodal volumes continue to improve, down 10.6% year-over-year but beating the trailing four-week average as they have in prior weeks. But keep in mind that 2019 was a weak year for freight markets and a soft year for intermodal volumes: The mode is well into a multiyear volume decline that

By |June 3rd, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal markets: Volatility out of L.A.

Intermodal volumes are improving, but they’re still double-digit percentages below 2019 levels, which was not a great year for the railroads. Because volumes are low and intermodal capacity is easy to secure, tender rejections are insignificant — intermodal marketing companies (IMCs) are taking all of the contracted freight they can

By |June 1st, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Intermodal markets: Signs of life?

Intermodal volumes were stronger than their four-week trailing average in week 20, though still down 14% compared to the same period in 2019. Air pockets remain in containerized freight networks — there will be soft periods on a lag to demand going forward — but it seems clear to us

By |June 1st, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Global trade update

West Coast ports have taken their medicine; now it’s time for the East Coast to suffer. China’s economy is working to make up for lost time (air pollution now exceeds 2019 levels), and West Coast volumes have already started reaping the benefits, gaining momentum out of their March trough. Economic

By |June 1st, 2020|3PLs, Intermodal, Rail, Special Topic, Trucking|

PSR’s past and future

The modern operating strategies known collectively as precision scheduled railroading (PSR) have driven profound changes in the way railroads think about their workforces, revenue growth, assets, facilities, networks and customer service. In this piece, we explore the past, present and future of PSR through two decades of railroad industry financial

By |May 7th, 2020|Intermodal, Most Popular, Rail, Special Topic|

Transportation Liquidity and Credit Analysis in a COVID19 Driven Recession

When the financial markets come under stress and the U.S. enters a recession, creditanalysis always comes back to the forefront and is the most important considerationof investors. This is where we find ourselves now in the aftermath of COVID-19becoming a global pandemic that has effectively shut down much of the

By |May 6th, 2020|3PLs, Financials, Intermodal, Rail, Special Topic, Trucking|

Intermodal markets: CSX’s trucklike service

After markets closed this afternoon, CSX reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2020, giving us a look at how eastern rail intermodal networks are performing (tomorrow western railroad Union Pacific reports). There are a couple of things that jumped out at us: CSX successfully sold domestic intermodal

By |April 22nd, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|