Quest for Quality Rail/Intermodal: Full steam ahead

By Staff
August 01, 2013 - LM Editorial

Despite an uneven economy and an atmosphere of political uncertainly that has put several freight transportation modes on shaky ground, shippers continue to find that rail and intermodal service providers are chugging forward, improving service, and creating value despite the well-publicized challenges.

As Group News Editor Jeff Berman reported in June as part of his Annual Rail/Intermodal Roundtable, even though rail carload and intermodal volumes have still not caught up to 2006 levels, they’re certainly heading in the right direction. “What’s more, those volume levels are on solid footing,” says Berman, “with North American Class I railroads upping the ante annually on their respective capital investment plans, setting their sites on building out networks, and acquiring new equipment.”

While the market has watched the commodity mix on the carload side change in recent years, railroads have shown their versatility in creating high-value services in new and emerging markets, while intermodal—especially on the domestic side—continues to chug along at a healthy clip despite the still unsettled economic news.

Our top rail analysts contend that as more shippers face challenges in securing motor freight capacity, it appears certain that they’ll be more willing to make the secular shift from truck to rail, and figure out how to manage those longer transit times.

“However, railroads must continue investing in line-haul and terminal capacity to accommodate this intermodal growth—that’s probably the biggest obstacle over the long term,” says Accenture’s Brooks Bentz. “But any way you look at it, the conversion of highway traffic to rail has a huge upside, not only for shippers, but also for truck lines seeking to reduce operating expenses.”

According to the readers of Logistics Management, the continued investment momentum is certainly paying off for the 10 service providers that will be stepping up to the podium to receive Quest for Quality gold this year.

In the Rail/Intermodal Service category this year we find perennial top performer Triple Crown Services posting a top weighted average of 47.44, with Union Pacific pulling up on its heels with a weighted average of 46.38. Triple Crown put up top marks in On-time Performance (11.75), Value (10.44), and Customer Service (9.12), while BNSF logged highest scores in Information Technology (8.03) and Equipment & Operations (9.11).

In this year’s Intermodal Marketing category we have five companies walking away with Quest for Quality gold. J.B. Hunt Intermodal posted an impressive 49.45 weighted average to lead the category. J.B. Hunt posted best marks in Information Technology (8.05), Customer Service (9.78), and Equipment & Operations (10.06). Yusen Logistics, which posted a notable 49.02 weighted average, placed the highest in On-time Performance (12.53) and Value (10.20).


2013 Quest for Quality Winners Categories

NATIONAL LTL | REGIONAL LTL | TRUCKLOAD | RAIL/INTERMODAL | OCEAN CARRIERS | PORTS | 3PL | AIR CARRIERS and FREIGHT FORWARDERS


home page



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!

Recent Entries

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in July headed up 1.3 percent on the heels of a 0.8 percent increase in June. The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 133.3 in July, which outpaced June’s 132.3 by 0.8 percent, and was up 2.8 percent annually.

Volumes for the month of July at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) were mixed, according to data recently issued by the ports. Unlike May and June, which saw higher than usual seasonal volumes, due to the West Coast port labor situation, July was down as retailers had completed filling inventories for back-to-school shopping.

With a 0.8 cent decrease, this week’s average price per gallon is $3.835 and stands as the lowest price since hitting $3.844 the week of November 25, 2013.

LTL carriers are rapidly investing in expensive, on-dock, three-dimensional size measurement capturing machinery, and they are hoping one day of being able to more accurately charge shippers rates based on the actual dimensions of their shipments, rather than the traditional weight-and-distance-based formula that has been in effect since the 1930s or even earlier.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) dipped 0.9 percent from May to June.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA