Primus Nominated to STB

Career Democratic congressional staffer Robert Primus, 49, has been nominated by President Trump to fill one of two vacant seats on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB). Primus’s nomination followed a mid-2019 written recommendation to the White House by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer (D-N.Y.). He is now paired with Republican nominee Michelle A. Schultz, whose earlier Senate confirmation has been stalled nearly three years pending nomination of a Democrat.

FreightWaves SONAR: California Gov. Urged to Reverse Ports’ Receding Market Share

California Gov. Gavin Newsom got a letter Monday asking that the state take action to reverse the loss of market share at West Coast container ports.

FreightWaves SONAR: Have Sky-High Ocean Rates Finally Peaked?

Ocean container rates remain exceptionally high but may have finally hit their ceiling. Spot rates have not only stopped rising, they’ve pulled back by single digits. Is this a new plateau or the start of a longer-term reversal as liner alliances bring more capacity back online?

Will Railroads Grow Organically, or Just Recover?

The search for modal share growth is still fundamentally the real strategic challenge for the seven Class I North American railroads. Profitability remains excellent. Net cash flow? Down a bit during the second quarter of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic economic shock hit. We will find out by how much less over the next few weeks as second-quarter earnings are released. The railroads’ executives will use their processes for managing financial results during the second half of 2020’s “recovery” pace (assuming such an event occurs). But at some point a railroad analyst is going to ask, “Where is the beef for the promised longer term competitive customer growth positioning?”

Cowen: “Concerns Around KSU’s Concession in Mexico Are Overblown”

“We view concerns around Kansas City Southern’s concession in Mexico as overblown. The exclusivity provision cannot be revisited until 2027 and the concession remains in effect for 20 years after that. Further, KSU is improving its operations via PSR, which should aid Mexico as reliable rail service is likely to be a necessity for the country as it grows its manufacturing base. Reiterate Outperform.”

Recovery, Growth, Car Supply Confront Rail

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE, JULY 2020 ISSUE: On the June 17 Railway Age Rail Insights webcast (held in lieu of the usual conference in Chicago), the path forward for rail and the post-pandemic future of rail loadings was on the mind of presenters and the audience. The rail industry is searching for the bottom and looking for “green shoots” that suggest the market has “bottomed,” and that loadings might start to return to normal levels.

PSR, The Next Generation, Part 2: Rail Group On Air Podcast

This Rail Group On Air podcast, the second of three and based on a feature story published on line and in the July print and digital issues of Railway Age, introduces Precision

FreightWaves SONAR: The Trans-Pacific Price-Gouging Debate

Spot rates in the trans-Pacific trade continue to reach epic new heights, leading to talk of price gouging. “Container lines have done well during the global pandemic, but are they profiteering from the crisis?” asked U.K.-based consultancy Drewry.

Defining Private Railcar Storage Best Practices

There are things the regulators don’t tell you about marshaling and storing freight cars, such as how to detect rail head wear. Most railroad executives would not know how to do this. This commentary will include a few pointers that your favorite Class I railroad salesperson won’t typically pass on as business intelligence. Bad things can and do occasionally happen in rail yards. Therefore, it is prudent risk management to consider these matters ahead of time.

Charting U.S. Rail Freight Through a Troubled First Half

Over the next few days and then amplified by mid-month investor reporting, we will learn more about how U.S. rail freight is trending. Association of American Railroads six-month data is out. In the interim, Susquehanna Financial Group (SFG) data scientists have circulated their freight market view. As well, we’ve added some FreightWaves SONAR intermodal data to the mix.