Intermodal shipping: UMAX service set to run between Detroit and Laredo

Taking steps to enhance the joint intermodal service they launched in March 2010, entitled UMAX, Class I railroad carriers Union Pacific and CSX recently announced service enhancements for this offering.

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Taking steps to enhance the joint intermodal service they launched in March 2010, entitled UMAX, Class I railroad carriers Union Pacific and CSX recently announced service enhancements for this offering.

When UMAX first went online, the objective of the service, according to UP and CSX, was to provide shippers with access to more than 20,000 containers and expanded market reach throughout North America. UMAX offer more than 600 service lanes, among other benefits, including: truck-competitive service in key lanes; access to more than 20,000 53-foot containers; and ramp-to-ramp and door-to-door service, among others. When this service was initially introduced, CSX and Union Pacific officials said that along with IMCs and shippers, UMAX will offer rail-provided 53-foot containers to motor carriers, freight brokers, truckload, parcel, and less-than-truckload customers.

UP officials told LM that the new UMAX service enhancement is comprised of what it said is the industry’s fastest intermodal service between Detroit, MI, and Laredo, TX, connecting the Upper Midwest and Canada to southern Texas and Mexico.

Using the UMAX container fleet for this interline service, Union Pacific and CSX now deliver three days faster than the next best intermodal service, making fourth-day delivery to Laredo and fifth-day delivery to Detroit, they said, adding that UP is the only railroad with access to all six gateways into Mexico.

UP Director of Corporate Communications Tom Lange told LM that the impetus for this addition stems from the fact that Detroit and Laredo are two to the largest NAFTA U.S. Customs districts with combined trade of more than $400 billion in 2010. 

“That’s obviously a lot of goods moving north and south,” said Lange. “We worked for months to develop and implement this service. The faster delivery time means better supply chain efficiency for our customers.”

Shippers stand to benefit from this new offering on various fronts, said Lange, including:
-having service in both directions six days per week;
-access to UP’s “Passport” service, which provides Ramp-to-Door and Door-to-Ramp delivery. With Passport, UP manages the customs clearance process at the Mexican border, Mexican drayage and railroad line haul with the convenience of a single point of contact and single invoice;
-customers have access to the UMAX fleet of more than 31,000 containers; and
-committed pricing and capacity, which like its other UMAX lanes, offers shippers committed container capacity at fixed annual prices.

As for future enhancements pertaining to UMAX, Lange said that while it’s premature to provide details, customers can anticipate additional UMAX services in lanes to and from Mexico, connecting the Eastern U.S.

In a February 2010 interview with LM, FTR Associates Senior Partner Larry Gross said that UMAX is more oriented towards asset-light players in the intermodal market like Intermodal Marketing Companies that don’t own their equipment. These companies, according to Gross, will leverage UMAX, because they don’t have to invest in the equipment, providing a lower barrier to entry.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

CSX · Intermodal · NAFTA · Supply Chain · Union Pacific · All Topics
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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