How a Rail Strike Impacts Trucking

How a Rail Strike Impacts Trucking

The threat of a rail strike has ramped up in recent weeks, even causing the United States government to start discussing contingency plans. Supply chain woes are nothing new to the trucking industry over the past few years, but this would put a heavy strain on over-the-road supply.  Roughly 60,000 union members that are employed by the railroad are set to go on strike, and that includes conductors and engineers. The railroad system carries nearly 30 percent of the nation’s freight, and a strike by those conductors and engineers would quickly bring the system to a stop.  Trucking Routes Would Become Imbalanced The rail industry doesn’t employ nearly as many people as it did decades ago, but railroads are still a vital part of the shipping industry in this country. Railroads move more than 324,000 containers per week. A railroad strike would have a direct impact on truckload capacity, causing it to be oversold and imbalanced.  Trains are how goods get from ports to the distribution hubs. Trains are built to move massive quantities of things like grains, chemicals, and coal. One railroad car has the capacity of between 3-5 semi-trucks. A rail strike would produce an additional 200,000 tanker truckloads per week – just to move chemical products.  Find Ways to Expand Trucking Capacity Now  If trucks need to shore up the loss of rail shipping options, it would put even more strain on the ports – many of which are already bursting at the seams. The threat of a rail strike is real, and businesses that rely on shipping should be doing everything in their power to prepare...
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Rail Disruption Impacts Truckload Capacity & Price

For months now, the supply chain has continued to battle one issue after another. Many shippers have had to modify the way they move goods due to backed-up ports, labor shortages, and lack of truckload capacity. And rail disruption is no exception, especially off the West Coast.  In fact, Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) reported that the share of imports hauled by rail from Los Angeles/Long Beach fell to an all-time low Jan- April 2022, dropping 40%+ YoY. And while imports dropped, the average daily number of intermodal trains serving the ports dropped from 33 in 2019 down to 27 in 2022.  “Unfortunately, rail disruption is not an isolated issue”, said Michael Paul, VP Sleek Sales. “As with any mode of transportation, when disruption occurs all modes are impacted as shippers try to figure out how to keep goods moving so they deliver on time. To prove this point, DAT reports very tight capacity in LA and Abilene, TX with load to truck ratios reaching 4:1, which will cause over-road rates to increase during the fall peak season.”    Congestion at West Coast ports, along with the threat of labor shortages and strikes, has led to a steady increase of trade moving away from the West Coast to the East Coast. To understand market share, one can refer to trends in container volumes. From January through May, Port of New York import containers increased 11.5%  while Port of New Jersey increased 6.5%. To make matters worse, ports have begun to see an unusually early arrival of holiday products, including Christmas trees and Winter appeal. Household appliances are also part of long...