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What is causing intermodal imbalances at the ports?

Posted by The FTR Experts on Jan 10, 2021 2:01:00 PM

The FTR Experts were posed with the question, "How much has Jim Vena’s UP Embargo/Surcharge policy at LA Longbeach vs the loose Foote policy at CSX impacted those Intermodal imbalances at the ports?"

This Q&A response from the FTR experts came from the January 2021 State of Freight webinar, Preparing for 2021

Key Takeaways:
  • LA/LB is up 27% y/y in November. Pacific Northwest and Western Canada up 30% y/y as some shippers shift away from LA/LB.
  • Port imbalances are now about finding capacity wherever shippers can get it, whether that be on the east coast or west coast, and less about particular carrier policies.

FTR Expert Response: In a lot of ways, the surcharges haven’t been all that effective with LA/LB still up 27% year over year in November. The surcharges certainly encourage shippers with alternatives to look at them (and we’ve seen evidence of this with the PNW’s results and Western Canada up 30%y/y), but some shippers because of transloading and other factors, will have to use LA/LB. I think the port imbalances initially were about the need for speed and since then, have been about finding capacity wherever they can get it, whether that be on the east coast or west coast and less about particular carrier policies.


Read additional Preparing for 2021 Q&A on the FTR Blog.


If you need to manage your transportation spend, or set budgets for rates, only FTR provides history and forecast for truckload rates for spot and contract, coupled with a freight demand outlook that helps you plan for capacity, letting you decide when it makes sense to go short on the spot market, or lock in contracts to secure capacity.   

Tags: intermodal, ports


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