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CSCMP report: Rail helped the logistics industry grow incrementally in 2013

The U.S. supply chain and logistics industry continues to rebound slowly, led by rail and trucking growth, according to a "State of Logistics Report" recently released by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and presented by Penske Logistics.

The rail industry experienced significant volume growth within the past year, with overall traffic increasing 9.2 percent, total carloads rising 8.1 percent — the largest increase in recent years — and intermodal units climbing 10.6 percent, the report states.

"Volume has been rising faster than it can be absorbed by the industry; 2013 saw many incidents of rail-car shortages or unavailability of the right equipment," CSCMP officials said in a press release. "There were even reports of a shortage of locomotives to pull loaded cars."

The total cost of the U.S. business logistics system rose 2.3 percent last year to $1.39 trillion, the equivalent of 8.2 percent of current Gross Domestic Product, the report states. Railroad sector costs clocked in in at $74 billion, second to the trucking's $657 billion. The cost for rail transportation rose 4.9 percent, but strong competition from trucks held rail rates down in 2013, CSCMP officials said.

"Railroad sector costs grew 3.6 percent as intermodal gained market share in response to the truck capacity shortage," they said. "Rates have not responded to the tight industry capacity, and have not grown as fast as volume."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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