Class I railroads expect domestic intermodal ramp up

Despite sluggish performance in the second quarter — as in the smallest quarterly growth rate since 2009 — domestic intermodal volume is poised to pick up through the remainder of 2015, and beyond. Class I executives and intermodal industry observers cite several reasons for optimism, such as the steadying economy, trucking industry woes, and railroads’ improving service performance, aggressive marketing strategies and continued infrastructure investments.

Although there’s still some uncertainty shrouding the domestic intermodal market, such as the degree to which truckers can take advantage of falling fuel prices, Class Is anticipate steadier volumes, especially during the traditionally busy fall peak season. For the most part, shippers continue to consider rail not only for the lower-cost, long-haul portion of their transportation moves, but for other areas of their supply chains that are suited to railroads and trucks working in concert. Case in point: A retailer tapping intermodal to more quickly receive time-sensitive freight associated with a promotional sale.

These are the conclusions reached by our freelance writer Robert J. Derocher, who sought to gauge the domestic intermodal market by probing Class I execs and industry observers. He shares his findings in this article he contributed to our September issue.

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