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By Pat Foran, Editor
In this month’s cover story, Managing Editor Jeff Stagl deftly outlines the factors impacting the intermodal sector these days, and unpacks how — despite the way the key traffic segment’s 2022 story is playing like the Sergio Leone film “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” at the moment — Class I intermodalists feel good about things. Particularly on the domestic container front.
“It’s an exciting time in intermodal,” as CSX Vice President of Intermodal and Automotive Maryclare Kenney told Stagl. “There are opportunities out there.”
Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) forecasters see what Class I intermodalists see. Citing growing transloads and tight trucking conditions that contribute to truck traffic conversions to rail, they expect 2022 domestic container volume to rise 6.4% compared with 2021’s total.
The rise presumes an “if” — or two (or three) — in rail country. It’ll require Class Is to get their workforce act together, smooth out equipment availability problems and improve service ASAP (as in yesterday). They’ve been working to resolve all three issues for some time now, and last month, a few railroads shared data with Stagl that suggests they’re making progress.
Whether the progress will be enough to result in the kind of growth IANA and others are projecting remains to be seen. Shippers certainly hope the rails can at least right their portion of the intermodal ship. While some found relief this spring from more stable diesel prices, and less challenging capacity utilization and freight rates, many shippers will “continue to face headwinds over the balance of the year from strong fuel prices and carriers seeking to limit congestion on their routes as the peak season ramps up in the months ahead,” as FTR VP of Rail and Intermodal Todd Tranausky noted in a June 30 release.
Here’s hoping the headwinds are weaker than forecasters expect, and that they don’t prompt dramatic whistles like in an Ennio Morricone score.
Progressive Railroading will recognize this year’s Rising Stars class during a virtual celebration on July 27 at 3 p.m. EDT.
This year’s 25 winners were chosen based on their contributions to railroading, as well as their career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity and community involvement.
Their stories will be profiled on ProgressiveRailroading.com later this month and then published in our September issue.
To register to attend the program (it’s free), visit: http://www.progressiverailroading.com/risingstars/about.aspx