Fleet Management

Truckload Linehaul, Intermodal Rates Mixed in April

May 21, 2015

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Truckload linehaul rates declined in April from the month before while intermodal rates moved higher, according to two separate reports released on Thursday.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index fell 0.4% to 125.9 compared to March but increased 3.8% compared to April 2014.

The index reading is the third best since the start of 2014.

According to the report, with demand increasing and capacity remaining tight, we should continue to see contract rate increases filter into the index at higher levels.

“We would point out that contract pricing, which applies to 95% or more of the public carriers' freight, has been accelerating after a drawn-out bid season last year,” said the investment firm Avondale Partners, which provides analysis of the report. “As a result, although spot market pricing has decelerated somewhat [but] it remains strong. We see truckload pricing increasing between 4% and 9% in 2015, depending on how much rate increase each carrier was successful in obtaining in 2014 and when those rate increases were achieved.”

The index is an indicator of market fluctuations in per-mile truckload pricing that isolates the linehaul component of full truckload costs from other components, such as fuel and accessorials, providing a measure of trends in baseline truckload prices.

Meantime, a separate report about the intermodal market was less encouraging.

The Cass Intermodal Price Index increased 0.7% in April from the month before to 134.2, its best reading so far this year, but declined 1.9% from the same time in 2014, the biggest drop so far this year

“We expect intermodal rates to continue to decline as drops in diesel and oil prices continue to encourage mode shifting to truckload,” said ‚Ä®Avondale Partners. “We concede that the extent to which loads can be shifted from domestic intermodal back to over-the-road truck is dependent on trucking capacity, but the approximately 20 cents per mile decline in fuel surcharges collected by truckers in the last year, with most of that decline coming in the most recent four to five months, has to challenge demand and pricing power for domestic intermodal, especially in shorter lengths of haul.”

The Cass Intermodal Price Index is an indicator of market fluctuations in per-mile U.S. domestic intermodal costs that includes all costs associated with the move, such as linehaul, fuel and accessorials.

Data within both indexes is derived from actual freight invoices paid on behalf of Cass Information Systems' clients, which totaled more than $26 billion in 2014.

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