Gulf Coast Battle: A Possible Solution

As the evidentiary hearing regarding the reintroduction and expansion of Amtrak passenger train service between New Orleans and Mobile continues before the Surface Transportation Board, interesting operational cost-sharing questions have emerged regarding how Amtrak trains may be able to coexist with very long CSX freights.


I Don’t Have That ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’

2022 was going to be the recovery year for freight, rail freight included. As the first quarter ended, I’m not so sure anymore. A group of statistics keep whispering in my ear.

Rail Freight: What’s in the Crystal Ball?

This column is focused on the U.S. rail freight economy, starting with the near term, 2022 into 2023, followed by an overview toward 2030. Near the beginning of the year this outlook task may be a fool’s errand.


A Journey Into the Telematics Universe

Over the past year and a half, I have been interviewing many of the people and companies that are in the business of trying to improve what is normally called “track and trace” and condition reporting of railway cargo and railway rolling stock equipment. Today, it’s called “telematics.”


Mediocre Performance—While Expecting Superior Results?

Leveraging/improving the role of freight railroads during the 2020-2021 supply chain crisis: What can be done better or at least differently?


Insights From IANA Expo2021

With lingering concerns about COVID-19 infections, this year’s attendance at the Sept. 12-14 Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) Expo2021 conference in Long Beach, Calif., was relatively low when compared to the association’s past events. But those participating—3PLs, shippers, railroads, truckers, maritime ship operators, ports and various containerization suppliers—were energized about the multi-modal trade with containers, and the presentation sessions offered meaningful metrics and give-and-take dialogue. And yes, equipment, technology, and various intermodal services and products were on display with a “please touch and question” atmosphere.

BNSF Hobart Yard

Why STB’s Inquiry Is a Public Service to Intermodal Shippers

Jim Blaze takes a technical look at the Class I’s responses to the STB’s inquiry on intermodal from his experience dating back to 1968.


‘Maybe So Sir, But Not Today’

I spent about a half-decade of my railway career working with several intermodal freight logistics luminaries: Marvin Manheim of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, Penn State Professor of Logistics Kant Rao and Bryan Stone of Intercontainer, with contributions from Rick Hill and Dick Andino, pioneers of ship-to-rail intermodal at APL. These folks and others helped shape my view of moving containers along complex links and nodes among different modes and terminals.


Reciprocal Switching: Complex, Expensive, Time-Consuming (i.e. Mostly a Bad Idea)

Here are a few observations about the often operationally complex competitive rail carload service that many shippers and public advocates would like federal regulators to shove down the throats of the railroads: “reciprocal switching,” or as the Association of American Railroads calls it, “forced access,” a “misguided” method that could, ultimately, undermine the railroads’ ability to reliably serve customers.


It’s Now an STB Moment

The Class I railroads have responded to the Surface Transportation Board’s strategic question: “Are You Prepared?” Shippers should look for certain signals.