Inside FreightWavesInside SONARIntermodalNews

FreightWaves adds new maritime, intermodal, and rail data sets!

We are regularly enhancing and improving SONAR to meet the needs of the ever-changing freight market and the needs of our customers. To help keep SONAR users informed, we deliver a brief recap of newly released data sets, market indices, and product feature improvements in our This Week in SONAR series.

Railroad Carloads – Originated and Received

The indices show the amount of each commodity (in carloads) moved by train for each of the Class I railroads, as well as total carloads and all of the Class I railroads. This even includes intermodal trailers and containers. The ability to map out movements by railroad provides a generalization of where each of the commodities are being moved. Carloads originated (ORAILCAR) shows the amount of railcars that began with a specific commodity by railroad. Carloads received (RRAILCAR) shows the amount of railcars terminated by a railroad and carrying a specific commodity. 

For instance, the ORAILCARAUTO.KSU and RRAILCARAUTO.KSU indices display all of the carloads carrying motor vehicles and parts originated on Kansas City Southern, as well as carloads that did not start on the railway, but were terminated on the railway. Having an understanding of the volume of a commodity moving along a railroad demonstrates the health and supply of a market.


The SONAR chart above highlights the movement of vehicles and parts on Kansas City Southern. This new data set maps out commodity movement by rail line, adding depth to existing indices in SONAR.

Railroad Dwell Time and Train Speed

The dwell time and train speed indices represent the amount of time a train waits at the origin for a specific commodity, the amount of time a train waits at one of the 10 largest terminals that the specified company owns, or the average speed a commodity is moved in miles per hour by rail.

These indices, updated weekly and available for Class I railroads, can help to estimate the time it takes to receive or ship a load, allowing shippers to plan loads more efficiently.

With this data, shippers could also gain a better understanding of how long a shipment may take to get to its destination. As an example, let’s look at the dwell time of grain carried by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (RAILDWELLGRAIN.BNSF) and the average speed of the BNSF trains carrying grain (RAILSPEEDGRAIN.BNSF). When dwell times are high, speeds appear to be lower. This largely happens in the spring, when grain crops are being planted and fewer loads are being moved. When more grain products need to be moved, trains are able to operate faster to stick to their schedules.


Railroad Inbound and Outbound Tariff Rates and Fuel Surcharge

The tariff rates and fuel surcharge indices show the tariffs and fuel surcharge charged to shippers in U.S. dollars per carload by market and lane a broken down by grain type (corn, soybeans and wheat), by train type (shuttle train or unit train) and by rail carrier (CSX, BNSF, UP, and CN).

The chart below shows what a shipper gets charged to move corn between Shreveport and Bloomington on a shuttle train (IRRSTFCORN.BMISHV). In comparison to the last harvest season, costs to ship are lower.


Drewry Global Container Port Throughput Index

The Drewry Global Container Port Throughput Index is a volume growth/decline index based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.

This index is an indicator of global shipping container volumes at major ports around the world. If the index is growing, we can assume that global trade is expanding and more volumes are flowing between ports. If it is declining, we can assume that global trade is slowing and fewer ocean containers are moving between ports.


SONAR is the fastest and most comprehensive freight market data and analytics platform in the world. These are just a few of the hundreds of unique data sets available to SONAR subscribers. Not a SONAR user yet? Sign up for a free test drive here.

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