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Rick LaGore

By: Rick LaGore on September 24th, 2021

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Truckload | Intermodal Transportation

September 24, 2021

The purpose of this weekly update is to provide shippers with the latest intermodal shipping news that is impacting freight capacity and service across both the US truckload and intermodal markets.


Union Pacific

union pacificMacro Update: 

Chassis are the number one capacity constraint issue for UP, but can be said to be the same issue across all Class I Railroads at this time

For UP specifically, chassis cycle times are up 20% vs. last year, which is impacting the ability of the operations to turn the assets fast enough to support the high demand.  While 20% may not sound like much, it has a huge impact when scaled across the entire fleet.  As context, if this year’s cycle time matched last year’s, it would free up ~8K chassis.  A 0.1 day cycle time improvement equates to 400 chassis, so even fractions of days really matter.

Current Network Chassis Constraints:

  • TCIT
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Brooklyn
  • Valley
  • Lathrop
  • Sparks

Portland is the most challenged metro from a chassis perspective.  Street time in Portland, is up almost one full day vs. last month.  Increased street dwell, coupled with very high seasonal demand, has led to a severe chassis shortage in this market.

Chassis priority is given to loaded freight, which is very heavy into Portland right now. 

There are boxes at Albina, but they are not in good condition, so the Equipment Team has recently cancelled orders protect customers from making dry runs.   Albina has shut off empty ingates to drive every single possible chassis to Brooklyn.  The Mechanical and Repair vendors have been pushed to Albina and are working extra shifts to inspect and repair boxes as fast as possible.

Action Items – Levers for UP Operations:

  • Brooklyn: Running two chassis repo trains into Brooklyn, which are to arrive early next week.
  • TCIT:  Getting creative and working with DCLI to supply chassis into TCIT out of Chicago on a temporary basis. 
    • This may take a little time as it has never been done, but this and other options are actively being pursued to help provide wheels to TCIT.
  • Lathrop/Sparks: Repositioning chassis out of Oakland to support these metros.
The chassis challenges are impacting empty equipment availability in these metros, as empty granting is very dependent on chassis supply.  While the UP Asset Team is working on action items to help alleviate the chassis supply issues within these metros, given the current landscape of elevated cycle times, the UP chassis supply does not provide a significant amount of levers we can pull.

The best way shippers can help is by continuing to focus on driving down street dwell. 

NS Updatesnorfolk southern

Domestic intermodal ingate restrictions have been lifted as chassis repairs are near completion.


CSX UpdatesCSX

Nothing new to report. 


BNSF UpdatesBNSF Railroad

In an effort to help the Port of Los Angeles’ and Long Beach’s capacity challenges, BNSF recently announced Accelerate Cargo initiative to expedite freight flows from the Long Beach/Los Angeles port complexes.   BNSF Railway will offer a new weekend in-gate incentive at its Los Angeles Hobart and Commerce Intermodal Facilities.  BNSF ocean carrier customers will receive a $50 incentive per ocean container that in-gates on a Saturday or Sunday at either facility for the next three weekends.

The new BNSF program is meant to boost collaborative 24/7 supply chain operations and reduce the current backlog of cargo in the port complexes.

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About Rick LaGore

Rick is the co-founder and CEO of InTek Freight & Logistics, a company focused on being the place where companies come when faced with a logistics problem.

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