29th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: Rail/Intermodal’s service stays on track

Not even the great recession could slow down progress on the nation’s rails. In fact, over the past four years, rail and intermodal service provider Quest for Quality scores have steadily improved as more shippers put this time-tested mode to work to cut costs and mitigate capacity issues on the road.

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As Group News Editor Jeff Berman reported last month in our extensive coverage of the recently released State of Logistics Report, there are several factors that have kept the railroads in excellent shape amid the chaos that was prevalent in freight transportation over the past four years.
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According to our shipper respondents, chief among these factors are strong service and reliability, which the rails have successfully leveraged as current volumes remain below pre-recession levels.

But the rail operators will be quick to tell you that improved service and reliability are not incidental or happening by accident. As Berman reported, Class I carriers are leveraging their strong service reliability into excellent returns, even with the dramatic decline in coal loadings which represents 40 percent or more of total rail volumes.

The rail operators are also doing a good job preparing for future growth, whether it’s for straight carload or intermodal movements. In fact, projected 2012 capital expenditure plans by Class I railroads represents a cumulative investment of a record $13 billion by the seven North America-based Class I freight railroads.

According to LM readers, the hard work and investment is indeed paying off for the 11 companies stepping up to the podium to receive Quest for Quality gold in the category. In the Rail/Intermodal Service Provider sector we find BNSF Railway (46.88) and Norfolk Southern (46.88) locked in a statistical tie for top weighted average. This marks the first time in several years that Triple Crown Service (46.13) did not post the highest score.

It’s interesting to note that top scores across the attributes were fairly dispersed this year. Norfolk Southern posted highest marks in On-time Performance (11.13) and Information Technology (8.21); BNSF put up the best score in Value (10.03); while Triple Crown edged out the rest of our winners with high scores in Customer Service (8.99) and Equipment & Operations (9.39).

In this year’s Intermodal Marketing Companies category, Alliance Shippers put up an impressive 52.19 weighted average, one of the highest scores reported in this year’s survey. Alliance topped the category with a 12.35 in On-time Performance, 10.58 in Customer Service, and 10.12 in Equipment & Operations. The Hub Group took top marks this year in Value (10.77) and Information Technology (8.48).


2012 Quest for Quality Winners Categories

NATIONAL LTL | REGIONAL LTL | TRUCKLOAD | RAIL/INTERMODAL
OCEAN CARRIERS | PORTS | 3PL | AIR CARRIERS | FREIGHT FORWARDERS


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2012 Quest for Quality Rail/Intermodal Sponsor

Intermodal marketing companies - Winner


About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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Hub Group Resources
Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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