Rail / Intermodal: Steady growth, consistent service

Learn about the 34th Annual Quest for Quality Award winners for Rail/Intermodal

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While the U.S. economy has certainly had its share of ups and downs over the past decade, the railroad and intermodal market sectors have both persevered to realize fairly consistent growth over that same span of time. And it appears that that they’ll be chugging along at the same pace for quite a while.

As group news editor Jeff Berman recently reported in our pages, despite the fact that many rail shippers are pushing for regulatory changes in order to provide a level of rate relief, the railroads continue to invest significant amounts of capital to maintain and upgrade the nation’s rail network in the name of safety and technological advancements.

“They’re doing it with an eye firmly set on the future, and it appears to be paying off,” says Berman. In terms of volumes, both of these vital freight transportation markets are ahead of where they were just a year ago.

According the Association of American Railroads (AAR), U.S. carload volumes are up 6.8%, through the first five months of 2017. On the rail intermodal side, 2017 container and trailer volumes through May are up 2.3%, marking the highest year-to-date tally through May for intermodal and topping 2015. In fact, volumes from January-May 2017 mark the highest volume output for that period in U.S. history.

“On the rail side, it’s clear that it’s no longer the bellwether that it once was, but growth lost on the coal side has been made up for in other areas, such as grain and chemicals,” says Berman. “And on the intermodal side, domestic intermodal is not as dominant as it had traditionally been; however, that’s due to the international movements swinging steadily upward.”

And while U.S. business may have watched the economy wavering in the wind over the past year, it’s clear that Logistics Management readers have witnessed consistent, world-class service levels from the 10 winners in our Rail/Intermodal categories of the 2017 Quest for Quality Awards.

Putting up the top weighted average in our Intermodal Service Provider category this year is Florida East Coast Railway with an impressive 51.24. Florida East Coast lead the way in On-time performance (12.37) and tied with Kansas City Southern Railway with a score of 9.51 in the Equipment & operations attribute category. Kansas City Southern found top spot in both Value (11.10) and Customer service (10.18).

In the Intermodal Marketing Companies category, Alliance Shippers put up one of the highest weighted average scores (57.52) that we recorded across the entire 2017 Quest for Quality survey.

2017 Quest for Quality Winners Categories


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