Intermodal, LTL providers poised for pick up in business
U.S. railroads and intermodal companies say they expect 2004 to be a banner year, as the economy heats up and some trucking moves shift to rail because of new work rules governing how long drivers can work each day, according to officials at the National Industrial Transportation League’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale.
Trucking companies also predict strong revenues, but must contend with the challenge of adjusting their operations to accommodate the new motor carrier safety rules.
Shippers could potentially pay a lot more for transportation in 2004, the transportation executives said. Estimates of lost driver productivity due to hours of service rules scheduled to go into effect Jan. 4 range from 4 percent to 20 percent.
“We think it creates a great opportunity for us to help our trucking partners and generate some business for us,” said Michael Ward, chief executive officer of railroad owner CSX Corp.
Brian Bowers, vice president intermodal services for long-haul trucking firm Schneider National, said, “2004 will be potential breakthrough year” for the intermodal industry. Schneider is building for a significant increase in demand for intermodal service as the hours of service rules compound the existing driver shortage and tight capacity in the truckload sector.
Less-than-truckload carriers, who carry multiple customer shipments in a single trailer, also could pick up business because the hours of service changes restrict the operations of truckload carriers more than short-haul companies, said Patrick Reed, president of FedEx Freight East.