Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for May 4 through May 8, 2015:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Trucking Trends: When your headhaul becomes a backhaul

By Mark Montague

As truckload freight moves into a more typical summer pattern, many lanes that paid headhaul rates just a month or two ago have turned into backhauls, where a backhaul is defined as the lower rate in a pair of moves (A to B and B to A).

Florida is a classic example.

Take a look at a 13-month history comparing average spot-market truckload reefer rates between Atlanta and Miami.

For 11 months of the year, Miami-to-Atlanta is the low-paying half of an imbalanced lane.

In May, the trend flips. The Miami-outbound spot rate jumps as Florida’s produce season sends reefer demand soaring (the average rate jumped nearly 40 cents a mile in May alone last year).

Think Local

While it’s always interesting to look at national average truckload rates, the dynamics of Atlanta-Miami is a reminder that capacity, demand, and rates are driven primarily by local conditions.

It’s no different between Los Angeles and Stockton.

The average reefer rate from Stockton to Los Angeles rarely equals L.A.-to-Stockton— except in the fall. From August to October, the gap between the headhaul and backhaul rate narrows to almost nothing.

Like Atlanta-Miami, the shift in California is driven by seasonal fruit and vegetable harvests.

Before you start laying odds on what Stockton-to-L.A. spot rates will be this autumn, remember what we said about local markets.

Drought conditions in Central California may very well affect demand and rates on this lane come the fall. 

Also, keep an eye on potentially more labor problems at Long Beach and L.A. ports. Despite the area’s large population and the variety of freight that moves in and out of the Los Angeles metro area, port traffic is a strong influence on local and regional freight trends.

Effect on Vans

This flip-flop effect goes well beyond the fruits-and-veggies market. Seasonal demand for reefers can flip lane rates for vans, too.

Reefer carriers compete with vans when the availability of refrigerated freight is low. But now, entering the harvest season in the Southeast, Texas, Southwest, and parts of California, the demand for refrigerated capacity is high.

The surge in demand for reefers puts a squeeze on van capacity as carriers focus assets on hauling produce. Van rates rise; hence, the Southeast typically enjoys higher rates in the spring and early summer as produce season starts sooner. The Midwest and Northeast have higher rates in the fall.

Shifting freight patterns create new opportunities elsewhere. Rates are most affected by local conditions, after all. But in some circumstances
the better rate is on the flip-side of a lane you’re already on.

Mark Montague is the senior industry analyst for DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT® network of load boards and RateView rate-analysis tool. He has applied his expertise to logistics, rates, and routing for more than 30 years. Mark is based in Portland, Ore. For information, visit

New toll structure approved for Panama Canal

The Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama has officially approved a proposal to modify the canal tolls structure, following a recommendation from the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Board of Directors.

ACP says the proposal — which modifies the pricing structure for most Canal segments — will better facilitate the goal of providing better service and reliability to the global shipping and maritime community while remaining competitive.

"After working in close cooperation with our partners in the maritime industry, I am pleased we will be able to provide a more bespoke pricing solution for our customers; one that recognizes their various needs and requests, while still appreciating the value and reliability provided by the route," said Panama Canal Administrator/CEO Jorge L. Quijano.

Most segments will now be priced based upon different units of measurement to meet and align with the diverse traffic transiting the locks, according to the statement. For instance, dry bulkers will be based on deadweight tonnage capacity and metric tons of cargo. Liquefied Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas ships, will pay tolls based on cubic meters, and tankers will be measured and priced on Panama Canal Universal measurement system (PC/UMS) tons and metric tons of cargo.

Container ships will continue to be measured and priced on TEUs, ACP says, and passenger vessels will continue to be based on berths or PC/UMS. In addition, a new Intra Maritime Cluster segment has been created which includes local tourism vessels, marine bunkering and container transshipment vessels that do not compete with international trade.

The tolls restructuring will also be implemented alongside a customer-loyalty program for the container segment, a first for the ACP. Frequent container customers will now receive premium prices, once a particular TEU volume is reached.

"The ACP deeply values the relationships we share with our customers," Quijano continued. "As we prepare for the completion of the Canal's Expansion Program, we look forward to continuing to provide the same superior reliability, service and value to our customers, as well as now accommodate longer, wider ships and the new LNG segment."

The newly approved toll adjustments for all market segments are scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2016, except for the new Intra Maritime Cluster Segment that goes into effect with this approval.

Bridgegate: Wildstein pleads guilty, Baroni and Kelly indicted on nine counts

David Wildstein, a former ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, pleaded guilty Friday to criminal charges related to the George Washington Bridge closure scandal, hurting Christie's image at a time when he is trying to launch his presidential campaign.

In addition, Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie, were each indicted on nine counts, according to court documents unsealed Friday. The two allegedly conspired to close the local access lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013. The most serious charges in the indictment carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

They were the first charges stemming from the September 2013 incident, which created four days of traffic snarls on the Hudson River crossing into New York City.

David Wildstein, who had been a senior Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy at a U.S. district court in Newark. He was released on his own recognizance on a $100,000 bond. The judge in the case cited his cooperation with prosecutors for the release term. Sentencing is set for August.

For more of the Huffington Post story:

For more of the story:

CMA CGM buys majority stake in India’s Logistix

French shipping giant CMA CGM has purchased a 60 percent stake in India's LCL Logistix as it tries to expand in freight forwarding services, the company group said on Wednesday.

CMA CGM did not disclose the price of the deal to buy Mumbai-based LCL Logistix, which operates freight services across India as well as in North America and East Africa. The logistics firm had sales of $120 million last year.

CMA CGM LOG unit, which runs logistics services to complement its sea transport division, will process the acquisition.

Last month, CMA CGM reported higher profits and record sales of $16.7 billion for 2014, supported by strong volumes and lower costs.

For more of the Reuters story:

Maersk insists on release of Maersk Tigris and its crew

Denmark’s Maersk Line is demanding the release of a vessel and crew seized by Iran, saying it assumed the seizure was related to a 2005 court case over uncollected cargo.

The Marshall-Islands flagged Maersk Tigris container ship was detained by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, triggering the U.S. to send military vessels to monitor the situation.

Maersk had chartered the ship, which is owned by undisclosed private investors. The firm met with Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization on Wednesday and said the company "must presume" the seizure was related to the long-running cargo dispute.

"We have, however, not received any written or formal confirmation that the seizure and the cargo case are connected," the company said in a statement.

"We must insist that the crew and vessel are released as soon as possible. The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line. Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case."

Maersk said it had agreed to pay an Iranian company $163,000 after an Iranian court ruling in February which related to a dispute about 10 container boxes transported to Dubai in 2005. The Iranian company appealed the case to seek higher compensation.

"Only today, 30 April, have we learnt that the appeal court has ruled Maersk Line to pay $3.6 million," Maersk said. "As we do not have the details of the ruling, we are not able to comment hereon, nor at this point speculate on our options."

There were 24 sailors on the vessel, mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia, and also a British national among them.

For more of the Euronews story:


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

L.A./Long Beach port trucker strike ends

Photo credit: Press-Telegram

Long Beach and Los Angeles port truck drivers ended their strike over low wages and employee status Friday when employees of Pacific 9 Transportation returned to work, according to a statement from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Drivers picketed Monday through early Friday morning primarily at the trucking companies’ headquarters and truck yards but also at port terminals. The Pac 9 truck drivers were the last to remain on strike. Drivers previously returned to work at Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), Pacer Cartage, and Harbor Rail Transport (HRT).

"We have millions of dollars in claims for wage theft against the company and we refuse to give up our fight," Byron Contreras, a driver leader at Pac 9 said in a statement. "But we need to feed our families, and while we’ve been on strike, the company has continued to charge us to use their trucks, to park their trucks in their yard, and to insure their trucks."

According to the release, Pac 9 is currently facing two class actions lawsuits for alleged wage theft and illegal misclassification of its drivers.

"It is unfortunate that the ports must suffer delays because unscrupulous companies continue to violate the law and misclassify their drivers," said Fred Potter, the director of the Teamsters Port Division. "During the strike, we had an opportunity to talk to thousands of drivers on the long lines at marine terminals who are eager to join the struggle, and unless companies respect the law and properly classify their drivers, more and larger strikes are to be expected."

For more of the Press Telegram story:

DOT releases new oil train safety rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation released safety rules for oil trains Friday, with delayed standards for safer tank cars but no requirement that the fuel inside be processed to make it safer to transport.

Jointly announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Canada’s Transportation Minister Lisa Riatt, the rules reflect a recent rash of oil train accidents in both countries, including the lethal explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

“Since 2008, we have seen a staggering, staggering 4,000 percent increase in the transport of crude oil,” said Foxx.

Here is what the Department of Transportation is requiring:

– Aged, 1964-vintage DOT-111 tank cars must be shelved by 2018. The three-year phase out is far more generous than what USDOT previously promised.

– Newer cars, labeled CPC-1232, would be phased out by 2020 unless they are retrofitted with a thicker tank shell under what is known as a DOT-117 standard.

– The DOT-117 standard requires a nine-sixteenths-inch tank shell, a half-inch shield running the height of both front and back of a tank car, better pressure-relief valves and bottom outlet valves.

– Oil trains with any older-model tank cars can travel at only 40 mph in “high threat” urban areas. All oil-by-rail trains are restricted to 50 mph, a speed limit already adopted by railroads.

– Railroads must adopt new, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes for oil trains, beginning in 2021.

The railroads are not happy with the pneumatic brake requirement.

"The DOT couldn’t make a safety case for E.C.P. (pneumatic brakes) but forged ahead anyway: I have a hard time believing the determination to impose E.C.P. brakes is anything but a rash rush to judgment," said Edward Hamberger, CEO of the Association of American Railroads.

The Department of Transportation is also creating a new standard, "high hazard flammable trains," defined as "a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with flammable liquid or 35 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train."

For more of the Seattle P.I. Story:

Navy ships will escort U.S.-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy ships will accompany U.S. flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz "indefinitely" in response to Iran seizing a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel last week, according to the Pentagon.

Since the mission began, four U.S. flagged ships have been accompanied through the strait, said Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris was seized Tuesday (April 28) by Iran, ostensibly over a business dispute with the Iranian ports and Maersk Line. As of Friday afternoon, the cargo ship and its crew are still being held by Iran, docked off Larak Island.

For more of the Washington Times story:

Port of L.A. police chief indicted on federal corruption charges

The chief of police at the Port of Los Angeles has been indicted on corruption charges related to a smartphone app, according to federal prosecutors.

The corruption charges are allegedly in regards to a scheme in which the chief, Ronald Jerome Boyd, stood to financially benefit from the development of a social networking program that would become the official smartphone app for the port and would then be marketed to other law enforcement agencies, according to the indictment. Boyd was named as chief of public safety and emergency management at the port in January.

The 16-count indictment accuses Boyd of corruption, lying to FBI agents, failing to file federal corporate tax returns for a private security company he created, and tax evasion.

For more of the NBC Los Angeles story:

Port of Houston worker rescued after 50-foot fall

A worker aboard a vessel at the Port of Houston fell at least 50 feet into the ship’s cargo hold Friday night, suffering several injuries.

According to the Houston Fire Department, the worker was working on the Adam Asnyk's cargo section in the Houston Ship Channel at Dock 20.

The Houston Fire Department's Rescue Team lifted the person to ground level and the patient was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital Medical Center via LifeFlight.

For more of the ABC13 new story:


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Global intermodal freight to grow 17.4 percent

By William DiBenedetto, CBN Feature Editor

The impact of globalization tends to focus thinking about supply chains mainly on ocean transportation over long distances, but the interaction of the water, air, rail and trucking modes are what makes the modern supply chain tick.

The Intermodal Association of North America defines intermodal as the "transfer of products involving multiple modes of transportation — truck, railroad or ocean carrier."

A new study from Transport Market Research Reports, "Intermodal Freight Transportation Market 2015-2019," says the global intermodal freight transportation market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.4 percent through 2019. "Companies are relying more on intermodals for the shipment of automotive parts, consumer goods, and heavy vehicles," the study notes. "Though there are many reasons for the increased use of intermodals, the main reasons are efficiency, low cost, and environmental impact."

The intermodal freight transportation industry is also introducing major technological advances such as information and communications technology (ICT), computerized vehicle routing, active traffic management, and online freight exchange.

Rail is the most important and common mode of intermodal transport for freight, the study says — with approximately 41 percent of total intermodal freight transported by this mode.

Some recent rail developments of note:

  • Canadian National Railway plans to spend $409.45 million to upgrade the safety of a feeder network in the western portion of Canada. A series of accidents has increased the focus on CN’s safety record, and CEO Claude Mongeau also said the spending is necessary to prepare for an expected increase in volume on the railroad’s feeder network.

    CN also plans to build a $206.7 million intermodal and logistics hub adjacent to its main line in the Town of Milton, Ont., about 30 miles west of Toronto. Milton has ready access to major highways reaching key industrial and commercial areas in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Intermodal is one of the railroad’s fastest growing business segments and its largest single business unit, with 2014 revenues topping $2.2 billion.

  • Dubai’s DP World intends to purchase the Port of Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal from Deutsche Bank for $580 million. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year. Fairview is the first dedicated intermodal (ship-to-rail) container terminal in North America.

    "Fairview Container Terminal offers the fastest access for vessels traveling between Asia and North America," said DP World CEO Mohammed Sharaf. "The terminal also offers the highest productivity rates on the West Coast and an efficient rail link to the hinterland," he continued, noting DP will conduct a feasibility study to increase the terminal’s capacity to 2.45 million TEUs. The agreement is subject to Canadian regulatory approvals.

    A few weeks prior to the DP World announcement, Maher Terminals Holding Corp., had said it planned to expand FCT to more than 1.3 million TEUs annually, from the current annual container-handling capacity of approximately 850,000 TEUs.

  • BNSF is facing a lawsuit for damages of up to $41 million for abruptly changing the Cold Train perishables rail service at the Port of Quincy, WA.

    Steven Lawson, former president and CEO of Cold Train, and Mike Lerner, former managing member of the company, said they had to shut down the rail service because BNSF failed to meet its promise for 72-hour delivery times. The case was filed last month in federal court in Spokane, WA. The complaint alleges that the 72-hour "on-time percentage" steadily dropped from 92 percent in August 2013 to 3 percent in April 2014.

    Lawson and Lerner contend BNSF’s scheduling issues — allegedly favoring oil and coal over fresh produce — resulted in Cold Train losing most of its fresh produce business, including apples, onions, pears, potatoes, carrots and cherries, which was more than 70 percent of the company’s business.

    "The shutdown of Cold Train was caused by a significant slowdown in BNSF’s service schedules on its northern corridor line beginning in the fall of 2013 because of increased rail congestion as a result of BNSF hauling larger volumes of oil and coal from the Northern Plains region," they charged.

    "Any suggestion that BNSF would intentionally seek to cause harm to any customer runs completely contrary to how BNSF conducts business," BNSF communications director Amy Casas said.

Rail’s advantages include cost-effectiveness, ease of tracking, fewer idle periods, door-to-door delivery, quicker delivery, safety of cargo, and the ability to use different routes.

Next, the air cargo role in the supply chain

FMC: Big shipping alliances are overwhelming major U.S. ports

The sharp rise of container ship sizes and alliances among the world’s largest shipping lines is overwhelming major U.S. ports, costing millions to shippers who can’t access their cargo on time and prompting the Federal Maritime Commission to threaten legal action if the parties don’t deal with the mess.

Container shipping is largely controlled by around 15 mostly European and Asian operators, which recently have sought to cut costs by increasing the pooling of operations within big alliances. The alliances have grown in recent years as carriers have introduced bigger vessels that are least twice the size of those that have been calling on U.S. ports for years.

As carriers put super-sized into play, the cargo-handling limitations at ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach has become evident. Containers are often randomly unloaded, swamping terminal operators as they try to organize the boxes and move them to specific destinations by truck or rail.

"Existing terminals were designed two decades ago to handle ships half the size of today’s vessels, and with the alliances, six ships belonging to the same alliance can show up at five different terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach." said Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. "This disperses cargo over a wider array of facilities making it challenging for truckers to pick the containers as well for western railways to amass the cargo and move it to specific destinations."

"We have 13 different terminals in Southern California. So there is a lot of confusion in picking up cargo," Seroka said.

Jonathan Gold, vice president of National Retail Federation, says its members have been levied by shipping companies with congestion charges to compensate for the for the extra time a vessel stays at port while cargo is being shorted out.

Last month, the Federal Maritime Commission voted to call in all parties involved to discuss the issue and come up with proposals to address the problem. It said that in many cases, congestion charges are deemed unfair since importers, exporters and truckers aren't responsible for the delays, and the regulator warned it could penalize unfair practices by shipping companies and terminal operators.

"The message from cargo owners, importers and exports is loud and clear," said FMC Commissioner Richard Lidinsky. "These alliances and their big ships are causing major problems at U.S. ports and by our vote all parties involved will have to sit down over the next 90 days identify what went wrong and come up with solutions. After that, the FMC will have a clear picture and if needed get involved in specific cases with investigations, subpoenas and fines."

"We had shippers telling us they are being regularly charged for the congestion by shipping companies. The operators cause the congestion and they want to profit on top of it. This is unacceptable," Lidinsky said.

The FMC and other maritime regulators from the European Union and China will meet in Brussels in May to discuss whether the alliances are in line with international competition practices and their role in congestion at U.S. ports.

The big carriers in the business, such as Maersk Line and MSC, have said that pooling their resources and deploying bigger ships — such as the Triple-E class, which can carry in excess of 18,000 containers — cuts their costs and provides better service to cargo owners.

For more of the Wall Street Journal story:

XPO Logistics to acquire Bridge Terminal Transport

Continuing its latest buying spree, XPO Logistics has entered deal to acquire Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bridge Terminal Transport for $100 million.

XPO said the deal would almost triple its drayage capacity to more than 2,000 independent owner-operators, primarily on the U.S. East Coast.

"Drayage capacity is tight," Chief Executive Bradley Jacobs told Reuters. "Often we get requests from customers to move their freight, and if you don't have drayage capacity you could get into bad situations."

Bridge is the largest U.S. asset-light drayage provider, with a network of 28 terminals and about 1,300 independent owner-operators.

XPO, which signed its biggest deal in history last week when it made an agreement to buy France’s Norbert Dentressangle SA for $3.5 billion including debt, has become a one-stop shop in transportation logistics, mainly through acquisitions.

"It's very likely that we'll do at least one or two more deals by the end of this year, either in North America or Europe," Jacobs said, without providing details.

The company raised its 2015 year-end run rate revenue target to at least $9.5 billion.

For more of the CNBC Reuters story:

Seattle mayor says port needs permit to host Shell Oil’s Arctic fleet

The Port of Seattle has to apply for a new land-use permit in order to have its Terminal 5 host Shell’s offshore Arctic oil-drilling fleet, according to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

"After talking to the port about its plans at Terminal 5 and after reviewing the 20-year-old permit for the operation of the cargo terminal, (Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development) has found, and I concur, that the long-term moorage and maintenance of Arctic drilling equipment falls outside the current permit," Murray said at a fundraising breakfast for nonprofit Climate Solutions.

"(The department) has determined that the port’s proposed use is not a cargo terminal and therefore the port must apply for a new permit," the mayor added. "I expect the port to obtain all required city permits before any moorage or work begins at Terminal 5 on Shell’s oil-drilling equipment."

The Port’s plans to host Royal Dutch Shell rigs and support vessels in between trips to the Arctic, under a two-year, roughly $13 million lease, have drawn strong criticism from environmental activists opposed to the drilling because of fears about oil spills and about additional fossil-fuel consumption contributing to climate change.

For more of the Seattle Times story:

Truck driver shot near rail yard in Atlanta, trailer stolen

Police are looking for two men who shot a truck driver and then stole his semitrailer loaded with furniture near a rail yard in Atlanta.

Investigators say the truck driver was leaving the Norfolk Southern train yard Tuesday morning when he was held up by two men, then shot in the head.

Atlanta police Capt. Terrell Griffin said the trucker suffered a "graze wound" to his head and was in stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital.

WSB Radio reports that police found the cab of the J.B. Hunt Transport truck east of the city in DeKalb County, but were still searching for the trailer.

For more of the Augusta Chronicle story:


Thursday, May 7, 2015

$1.8 billion Singapore port authority inks phase one construction deal

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore signed a $1.8 billion deal with Dredging International Asia Pacific-Daelim Joint Venture for work on the first phase of the Tuas Terminal.

The deal was signed during MPA's inaugural Singapore Maritime Technology Conference in April.

Under the agreement, the contractors will dredge, build the wharves and reclaim 294 hectares of land. The project will also use local companies.

"The work involved is quite substantial, and we do need local companies," said Toh Ah Cheong, director of the MPA Technology Division. "Some of them could be vessel owning and managing companies, local harbor craft suppliers and marine consultancy services. And being a land reclamation project, we would need quite a number of sub-contractors dealing with reclamation such as earth-moving, soil improvement and other civil engineering work."

Construction started on Feb 28, and the project is expected to be complete by Dec. 27, 2020. Once finished, the Tuas Terminal will have the capacity to handle 65 million TEUS a year. Its key features include making use of automated machinery and green energy systems to improve productivity and be environmentally sustainable.

MPA will be launching a series of calls for proposal to cover new areas for potential research and testing of technological solutions under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund. The first call for proposal will be launched in June this year.

For more of the Channel News Asia story:

Port Metro Vancouver to build new container terminal

Port Metro Vancouver has submitted an Environmental Impact Statement for a new container terminal at Roberts Bank in Delta, B.C. on Canada’s west coast, according to the port’s website.

Forecasts show the demand for container shipping is growing, and that container terminals on B.C.’s coast will be at capacity by the early 2020s. The statement reports the new Roberts Bank Terminal 2, along with expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert and other container terminals in Vancouver, will provide the needed space for this growth.

"The region is running out of room to manage growing Canadian trade with Asia," said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver. "The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project will ensure demand can be met while providing important economic benefits to B.C. and Canada. We look forward to the upcoming review of our environmental assessment by an independent panel."

The proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is a new three-berth container terminal, the port says. If built, the terminal would provide 2.4 million TEUs of container capacity to meet predicted growth in Canadian export and import trade.

The project involves the development of land and construction of a deep-sea marine terminal adjacent to the existing Roberts Bank terminals; the widening of the existing Roberts Bank causeway to accommodate road and rail infrastructure; and expansion of the existing Roberts Bank tug basin and an additional tug boat contractor.

Subject to environmental permits and approvals and a final investment decision, construction could begin in 2018 and would take approximately five-and-a-half years to complete, according to the port statement.

IANA: Domestic containers pushing Q1 intermodal volumes up 2 percent

Total intermodal shipments rose 2 percent over last year’s Q1 volumes, according to the Intermodal Association of North America, despite port congestion issues that impacted international container traffic. Domestic intermodal loads grew 4.5 percent, buoyed by domestic containers, which rose 6.5 percent quarter-over-quarter.

"Monthly first quarter results were uneven due to the issues on the West Coast," said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. "Despite February’s challenges, however, we still saw some overall quarterly growth, led by big boxes in regions less affected by port congestion."

Click graphic to see larger

IANA reports that domestic intermodal results were particularly impressive in view of the challenges facing importers. First quarter volumes exceeded the 5.1 percent gain recorded in Q4 of 2014.

Regional traffic growth remained tied to port issues, despite the relative strength of domestic intermodal. Volumes were down in the Southwest, which saw a 5.7 percent decline over Q1 2014. The Southeast surged 9.9 percent in Q1 2015, due to increases in both domestic and international containers. Western Canada posted the strongest growth rate of any region, jumping an exceptional 10.6 percent in Q1.

The seven largest volume corridors also varied according to their exposure to port disruptions, the statement said. While lanes that included the Southwest were down, the intra-Southeast continued to be an intermodal powerhouse — intermodal shipments in that lane jumped 16.5 percent in a quarter-over-quarter comparison. Overall, high density lanes, which accounted for 64.5 percent of total volumes, saw a minimal decline of 0.9 percent this quarter.

Intermodal marketing companies reported 3 percent growth in Q1, laying the groundwork for an even stronger performance in the coming months. Intermodal and highway loads jumped 3.2 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. IMC highway gains were significant enough to push revenues up 1 percent, compared to Q1 of 2014, according to IANA.

Oil fire erupts at Port of Tacoma

A fire in an oil-processing stack at the Port of Tacoma broke out Wednesday morning, according to the Tacoma Fire Department.

Tacoma Fire crews headed to fight the blaze around 8 a.m. at the U.S. Oil & Refinery in the Port of Tacoma in the 3000 block of North Marshall Street.

No injuries or evacuations were reported. About 9 a.m., fire officials said the majority of the crude oil had burned off and they expected to have the fire out soon.

For more of the News Tribune story:


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