Fleet Management

Truckload Linehaul Rates Improve, Intermodal Rate Drop Continues

December 17, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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A measure of truckload linehaul rates shows some improvement from the same time a year ago, while a separate report shows intermodal rates continue to sink.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index increased 1.6% year-over-year in November to 125.2, after growing 1.9% and 3.2% in October and September, respectively.

Analysts with Avondale Partners, which provides analysis, reiterated their tempered pricing forecast for 2016 of increases between 1% and 3%.

“Although Avondale expects contract rate increases to continue to filter into the Index, several factors contributing to an increase in overall capacity were noted, including carrier pay increases, suspension of the 34-hour restart rule, and a decrease in carrier bankruptcies,” said the investment banking firm.

Despite the year-over-year improvement in November, the index was down 1.7% compared to October, which was unchanged from the month before and is at its lowest level since August.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index is an indicator of market fluctuations in per-mile truckload pricing. It isolates the linehaul component of full truckload costs from other components, such as fuel and accessorials, providing a reflection of trends in baseline truckload prices.

Meantime, on the intermodal side it’s the same old story, with The Cass Intermodal Price Index falling another 2.4% year-over-year in November to 125.3. That's the 11th consecutive such decline, with drops of 3.2% in October and 2.3% in September.

Analysts with Avondale Partners indicated that the fall in diesel prices continues to negatively impact intermodal rates, especially in shorter lengths of haul.

The index also fell 3.5% in November compared to October, which posted a 3.9% improvement from the month before.

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 measures is derived from actual freight invoices paid on behalf of freight payment processor Cass Information System and its clients, which totaled over $26 billion in 2014.

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