Rail/Intermodal Roundtable: Full head of steam

The nation’s railroads have pulled out of the downturn in solid fiscal shape, proving that they’ve mastered the art of cost management. To offer a comprehensive look at the new state of the rails, we’ve gathered four top analysts to share how volumes, rates, and game-changing regulation could alter how shippers manage the mode.

By ·

While the recent recession has been declared the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, the nation’s freight railroads never missed a beat. In fact, they continued rolling on a bullish path, spending $21.8 billion of their own private capital in 2008 and $20.2 billion in 2009. As a consequence, the 140,000-mile rail network serving shippers has not only been maintained—it’s been modernized.

But now there’s a new worry in the shipping community: new regulatory laws. Opponents argue that unbalanced legislation will result in lower rates for some, while penalizing others. Add to this the concern that railroads will suddenly put a halt to new investment as a hedge against more unforeseen intervention.

To put the rail market into better perspective, we’ve gathered four leading analysts to share their perspectives and help rail shippers better understand how they’ll need to plan their rail and intermodal moves heading into 2011.

Check below for related articles.

2010 Mid-year rate outlook: Paying a Premium

2010 State of Logistics: Make your move


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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Article Topics

Freight · Intermodal · Railroad · Shipping · 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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