Truckload linehaul rates spiked in March, with the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index surpassing the 120 mark, showing a 6% year-over-year increase, the largest in 35 months, and setting a new high, according to a newly released report.

From February linehaul rates rose 3.7%, displaying an above-normal sequential increase for the fourth straight month. Demand for freight transportation continues to improve while capacity shrinks as carriers continue to exit the marketplace.

Meantime, the cost of intermodal shipping continues to rise, with March costs reflecting a 1.8% upsurge over the same month last year and a 2.5% increase from February, hitting a new high, according to the Cass Intermodal Price Index.

The prediction by the transportation analysts at Avondale Partners is that “domestic container shipments will grow at a high single digit rate in 2014, with particular strength in 'local East' shipments.”

They added that overall intermodal volumes rose only 2.5% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same time in 2013, according to the American Association of Railroads, as adverse winter weather hampered volumes across the country.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul 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.

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 is derived from actual freight invoices paid on behalf of Cass’ clients, which totaled over $23 billion in 2013.