Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

August 29th, 2023

Keeping you informed on the latest news/insights in our industry.

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Commerce Express Blog

New Orleans Railway Completes Project, Adds Capacity and Improves Freight Flow-01

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) is one of the more fascinating players in transportation.

NOPB is a Class III switching railway that serves the Port of New Orleans. A gateway with a marathon-distance worth of mainline track connects to six Class I railroad networks, unlocking over 132,000 miles of track across North America.

Read More Here

White modern bonnet popular professional big rig semi truck with dry van semi trailer going on the wet dangerous slippery icy winter road with snow on the trees on the sides of the divided highway

Truck Update

Possible Pilot Program at LA/LB for Trucker Appointment Slots 

At the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, truckers have emphasized the issues in securing appointment slots for container moves.  

In a meeting last Friday, the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA) and Yusen Terminals agreed to a 60-day pilot project that would shorten the window for taking delivery of containers from two hours to 90 minutes.  

The hope of this project is to have more appointment slots throughout the day, which would hopefully reduce the time truckers have to spend in line.  

Truckers in Mexico Plan a Nationwide Strike This Wednesday

A possible two-day demonstration, that could include up to 300,000 truckers, is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. central on Tuesday. It is expected to include blockades throughout main highways, which has the possibility to impact domestic and/or international freight shipments.  

The demonstration highlights a variety of demands such as improved road safety, lower operating costs, a ban on double tractor-trailers, and more.  

Per Freightwaves, and in a news release from the Mexican Alliance of Carrier Organizations (AMOTAC) – who represents over 75 percent of the commercial cargo, tourism and bus passenger vehicles fleets in Mexico – says they plan to keep the demonstrations peaceful.

Helping Fleets Navigate California’s Clean Fleets Rule 

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is putting out a new program to help with the future implementation of the California Advanced Clean Fleets rule starting early next year.  

This program is called, Cal Fleet Advisor, and the hope is companies that sign up, will be paired with their own advisor that will “help overcome any barriers preventing your fleet from incorporating zero-emission vehicles into operations.”  

Did You Know: Cross-Border Freight has Helped Realign the Market

In the towns of Laredo and McAllen, truckload demand has nearly doubled since 2018.  

Supply chain diversification strategies are part of the reason for the pattern shift. This can help companies against wild swings from geopolitical risks, but it can also increase costs.

Severe Weather Alert: Hurricane Idalia is making its way to the U.S.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm will bring life-threatening storm surge, with some areas expecting 8-12 feet of water. The latest data shows the storm potentially making landfall as a Category 3 with winds over 115 MPH. 

Additionally ports in Florida, as well as railroads that have major rail yards in Florida, have started to prepare for Hurricane Idalia’s landfall. Read more on that here.

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Lafayette - Circa April 2017: CSX Locomotive Train. CSX operates a Class I railroad in the US V
Rail Update

NS Delays a New Appointment System in Atlanta 

Back in May, Norfolk Southern rolled out a new appointment system outside the Memphis area. Since that rollout, they have dealt with a variety of issues including delays at the terminal due to computer outages and problems with two cranes who handle the transfer of containers onto trucks.  

NS has said those two malfunctioning cranes have since been repaired.  

Thus, Norfolk Southern has delayed the implementation of a mandatory appointment system in Austell, Georgia (just outside Atlanta), until October.  

The JOC has reported that some drivers have experienced multi-hour turn times in the last three months at the NS Rossville terminal (outside Memphis), though there have been less delays during the month of August. 

NS Group Vice President of International Intermodal, Alexander Luc urges drivers to book appointments at least 12 to 24 hours in advance.   

Discussions Continue Over the Use of a Federal Rail Safety Hotline 

The head of the railroads’ trade group wrote a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration, about usage of the federal rail safety hotline.  

The current obstacle is over how the confidential close call reporting system (C3RS) should handle situations where an employee makes multiple repeat calls over a “known event”, but the employee reports the event as a means to avoid discipline.  

Freightwaves notes that a “known event” is in regards to one where a railroad may already be aware of a situation that could compromise safety or doesn’t follow company safety guidelines.  

The unions want employees to be eligible for three allowances every three years for each different rule violation, even if the railroad already knows about the incidents being reported. While the railroads want limits on how many times an employee can report known risks.

Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending August 19th, 2023 

  • U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 19th, was 478,853 carloads and intermodal units, per the AAR, which is down 2.7 percent compared to the same time last year. 
  • U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 249,881 containers and trailers – down 4.6 percent compared to last year.  
  • Motor vehicles and parts, coal, and petroleum and petroleum products all posted increases, while grain, forest, and farm products (excl. grain and food), all saw decreases.  
  • For the first 33 weeks of this year, total North American rail volume was 21,354,793 carloads and intermodal units – a 4 percent decreases compared to the same time last year. 
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