Lower diesel prices do not hinder intermodal

Proponents of intermodal transportation often point to fuel savings as a significant benefit of leveraging intermodal for moving freight.

By ·

Proponents of intermodal transportation often point to fuel savings as a significant benefit of leveraging intermodal for moving freight. Naturally, there are also other things that make the intermodal case for them, too, like solid service levels and decent transit times that offer what many rail and intermodal service providers describe as “truck-like” quality.

But back to diesel prices. If you read this site closely, then you are aware of the fact that diesel prices have gone down for nine consecutive weeks. That is right, nine. And before that, they were up for nearly three months straight and soared above the $4 per gallon mark. In the last nine weeks, though, much has happened to bring down both gasoline and oil prices. Some of it pertains to the troubling economic situation in Europe, slow growth in China, and, of course, disharmony of all kinds in OPEC-based nations.

When diesel prices started going down, I was wondering if this would create some type of instant and widespread modal shift for shippers to move from intermodal back to truckload, but after speaking with Steve Van Kirk from Schneider National, I soon learned my assumption was not entirely correct for a few different reasons.

“[Shippers] are very concerned about fuel prices,” he said. “And that has really helped intermodal growth. While it is true diesel is down from previous levels, it is still fairly close to $4 per gallon. If you look at that price point on a historical basis, it is high. And if you anticipate where oil and diesel prices are heading in the coming years, most people will likely tell you prices are going up.”

What is currently happening now is what Van Kirk referred to as a market blip and for shippers with a long-term perspective of managing their freight, they see that intermodal will play a key part for them in managing their fuel costs as costs fluctuate and increase going forward.

Oil and gasoline prices, while often volatile, are in a manageable place at least for the time being. Intermodal shippers are smart to sit tight as prices do their thing. Through the first 20+ weeks of the year intermodal container and trailer loadings are up just about 3 percent. That is not a bad number at all, especially when one thinks about diesel prices have been lately-and where they might be headed….again.


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

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Diesel · Diesel Prices · Intermodal · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Increase Efficiency and Profits with Smarter Logistics Planning
Optimize your fleet by maximizing capacity and reducing empty miles
Download Today!
From the May 2017 Issue
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management, but what sort of technologies fall under these broad terms, and how will they change the management capabilities at our disposal? To find out, we talked to some noted supply chain analysts, consultants and technology executives and gathered six digital trends to watch.
Transportation Trends and Best Practices: The Battle for the Last Mile
2017 Technology Roundtable: Are we closer to “Intelligent” Logistics?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Going Beyond Rate Negotiations for Logistics Cost Savings
The pressure to reduce cost is a fundamental part of every organization today leaving many supply chain professionals constantly renegotiating rates. This webcast examines four areas that may hold untapped savings potentials and even help organizations negotiate better rates.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...

LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...