Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

November 28th, 2023 

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

Trucking –

  • As of November 27th, the national average price of diesel is $4.146.
    • Dropping 6.3 cents compared to the week prior.
  • Chassis availability is significantly low for exports in the Cleveland area.
  • A new bridge expansion project to curb congestion for truckers has now opened at the Calexico border.
    • This new bridge expansion is the first phase of the project. When the project is complete there will be two new northbound passenger vehicle lanes at the border, and two additional northbound and southbound commercial vehicles lanes.

Rail –

  • Surface Transportation Board has extended a deadline – to December 20th – on feedback for its proposed rule for reciprocal switching.
  • A train derailed last Wednesday in Livingston, Kentucky – involving sixteen railcars on a CSX train.
    • The cars on the train derailed and caught fire in the early afternoon, with two tank cars carrying molten sulfer.
    • In an investigation, CSX believes the derailment was caused by a failed wheel bearing.

Two Truck Groups Seek Federal Preemption Waiver

The Teamsters and the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the waivers in response to the FMCSA’s notice back in August.

The FMCSA has considered rolling back their previous decisions (from 2018 & 2020), finding that meal and rest break rules in California and Washington are preempted by federal hours-of-service rules.

Current federal hours-of-service rules require only that drivers are allowed a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving team and allow an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.

But, back in August this year, the FMCSA said that any federal preemption waiver would focus on how petitioners address truck parking, and if those stricter meal and rest break laws would further increase parking shortages.

These groups argue that 30-minute rest breaks have undisputed safety benefits, something the FMCSA has affirmed in the past.  

DOT ‘Finalizes’ Rule to Require States to Track CO2 Emissions

This rule, finalized by the Biden administration, will require each state’s department of transportation department to establish declining carbon dioxide targets and report on their progress.

According to the rule – per Freightwaves – each state may set targets “that are appropriate for their communities and that work for their respective climate change and other policy priorities, as long as the targets aim to reduce emissions over time.”

Also, an important note – they will not impose penalties on a state that does not meet its GHG targets.

Commerce Blog

Mexico Mandates Railroads to Prioritize Passenger Service-01

Last week, Mexico’s government laid down the hammer—a federal mandate which will force private railways operating in the country to prioritize passenger train services over their regular, preferred, freight ones.

Published in the government’s official gazette on November 20, the order calls on the country’s two main private railroads Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and Ferromex to provide detailed plans for offering passenger service by January 15.

Read more here 

FRA Wants U.S. Railroads to ‘Beef Up’ Their Winter Operation Procedures

Last week the Federal Railroad Administration released a safety advisory to U.S. railroads, in hopes this will encourage railroads to implement procedures to help reduce the incident level of weather-related accidents.

The FRA provided the railroads with six recommendations to consider:

  • Evaluate existing communication and training programs/rules/policies/procedures
  • Determine whether weather forecasting policies and procedures can be integrated with dispatching operations
  • Evaluate areas where railroads’ operating infrastructure is susceptible to severe weather events
  • Look at whether existing weather-related action plans adequately address risks
  • Establish standard operating thresholds that can help railroads operate through severe weather events
  • Collaborate with other railroads to develop best practices for utilizing weather forecasting technologies, predictive weather models and weather-related action plans.

Mexico is Requiring Railroads to ‘Prioritize’ Passenger Services Over Freight Operations

Last Monday (November 20th), Mexico’s government announced a federal mandate that will force private railway companies operating in the country to offer passenger service over their normal daily freight runs.

If rail operators don’t comply, they could see the government schedule its own trains on their tracks.

CPKC released the following statement regarding this mandate, “CPKC is reviewing the draft decree and remains directly engaged with the Mexican Federal Government regarding potential passenger rail service on certain existing freight rail corridors.”

As Freightwaves reports, it remains unclear what impact this federal mandate could have on freight operations throughout Mexico.

Total Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending November 18th, 2023

  • Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 501,416 carloads and intermodal units, seeing a 4 percent increase compared to the same time last year – per AAR data.
  • U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,000 containers and trailers, up 4.1 percent from last year.
  • Coal, chemicals, and motor vehicles and parts all saw increases from this time last year. While grain, miscellaneous carloads, and metallic ores and metals all saw decreases.
  • Total North American rail volume for the first 46 weeks of this year was 30,221,325 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.1 percent from last year.

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