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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Trucking capacity to remain tight into 2007, transportation research firm says


Railroads aren’t the only transportation mode dealing with strong traffic demand and limited capacity. The trucking industry’s capacity is expected to remain tight into 2007 because of continued strength in the economy’s manufacturing and freight-producing sectors, according to transportation research firm FTR Associates.

During the past nine quarters, U.S. “Class 8” trucking capacity — which historically has averaged 88 percent usage per quarter — exceeded 90 percent usage. Total ton-miles will increase 2.1 percent this year, with trucks’ modal share rising from 44.8 percent in 2006 to 45.3 percent in 2007, FTR predicts.

“Freight carriers have been able to aggressively raise rates — while this is good for the trucking industry, it is countered in large measure by escalating costs to operate,” FTR officials said in a prepared statement. “In addition to rising fuel, interest and equipment costs, driver wages will continue to rise as a substantial shortage [which currently numbers 87,000 drivers] persists.”

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More News from 6/19/2006