FreightWaves SONAR: Railroads Pin Hopes on Auto Manufacturing as U.S. Carloads Sustain Record Decline

The Class I railroads are closely watching the restart of North American automotive production, hoping that the slow ramp-up will not only grow motor vehicle volumes but also improve demand for supplies such as steel and plastics, according to executives at recent investor conferences. However, a key unknown variable is whether consumer demand will lift volumes for automobiles and other goods, executives said.

FreightWaves SONAR: Container-Import Roller Coaster: Down, Up, Down … Up?

U.S. container imports are on a wild ride. They plunged in March after the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. They bounced back in April when delayed bookings were loaded after China came back online. Beginning in May, they sank again as container carriers “blanked” (canceled) sailings. Now, it looks like there could be at least some momentum in the positive direction.

FreightWaves SONAR: Soft Truck Volume and Pricing Data Highlight an Intermodal Challenge

Throughout last year and year-to-date, the Class I railroads and the truckload-based intermodal companies have highlighted the soft truckload market as one of the major reasons for a lack of intermodal volume growth. The depth of the truckload weakness and how it may be changing can be illustrated from data provided by the FreightWaves SONAR software platform.

FreightWaves SONAR: Class I/Truckload-Based Intermodal Partner Fortunes Diverge

The Class I railroads and the truckload-based domestic intermodal marketing companies have all finished reporting their first-quarter 2020 earnings. For the Class I railroads, the theme of their earnings reports was that operational and cost efficiency improvements are continuing, even as steep volume contraction has stopped any thought of revenue growth for the time being.