More capacity and faster transit times to be introduced by Horizon

Horizon Lines, Inc. announced it will launch express intermodal container service to key inland U.S. cities when it begins the new Five Star Express (FSX) trans-Pacific liner service in December.

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Slow steaming on the transpacific appears to losing its cachet with some shippers, analysts and carriers report.

“As other carriers reduce service locations and slow service speeds, U.S. shippers continue to tell us they want fast and reliable service alternatives not only port-to-port, but inland to final destinations as well,” Brian Taylor, Senior Vice President of International Services at Horizon Lines, said.

The statement was made as Horizon Lines, Inc. announced it will launch express intermodal container service to key inland U.S. cities when it begins the new Five Star Express (FSX) trans-Pacific liner service in December.

At a press conference in China last week, executives of the U.S. domestic ocean shipping and integrated logistics company announced that approximately 60 percent of the initial voyage is already subscribed, as the company continues to make steady progress toward its goal of 75 percent bookings for the first sailing.

The maiden FSX voyage is scheduled to depart Ningbo, China, on December 14, 2010, Shanghai on December 15, and arrive in Los Angeles on December 26.

“At a time when U.S. retailers are maintaining lower inventory levels and placing more logistics responsibilities on their manufacturing partners here in China, our Five Star Express service offers a fast and reliable transit schedule to keep supply chains running smoothly.”

Jon Monroe, president of Monroe Consulting in Shanghai, told LM that such 3PLs have been clamoring for more alternatives on the ocean transport side.

“This region is booming,” he said, “and it’s only going to get bigger. We see manufacturers seeking more distribution and supply chain options.”

Horizon Lines plans to offer some of the fastest inland transit times in the industry, including 15-day availability in Kansas City from Shanghai and 16-day availability in Dallas, using scheduled intermodal rail service from Los Angeles every week. The carrier also will offer express inland service to Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta and Charlotte using on-dock rail connections to avoid drayage fees on the West Coast, saving customers time and expense. Horizon Lines plans to expand the inland express network to other locations throughout the United States next year.

“We do not operate in a one-size-fits-all supply chain,” Taylor said.

According to spokesmen, Horizon Lines is able to offer a cost-effective inland service because of operational synergies with the carrier’s domestic U.S. shipping network serving export customers to Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. Delivering imports inland to these markets, added spokesmen, will provide a more stable supply of containers in locations where many shippers struggle to find available container capacity.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly 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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