Monthly Archives: April 2013

New Intermodal Developments Make Kansas City a Freight Transport Hub

Kansas City is moving ahead with the development of inland port facilities that will see it continue to be an important link in the transport chain across continental America. In December the plans for a new intermodal facility in the city were given the green light by the courts1 and this has paved the way for the construction of a new freight transport hub that will become the central intermodal exchange in the US. The volume of freight traffic through KC has exceeded the current freight terminal’s efficient handling capacity and the new development is intended to build the transport hub that will be needed for the 21st century. KC already carries the greatest tonnage of freight of any facility in the US2 and with the expected growth in intermodal freight it will be vital for the city to be able to cope with increased volume in the future. A large part of the development is aimed at opening up a high volume link to Mexico from KC to take advantage of the growing potential for rail intermodal freight in that country. It is expected that a large part of the freight that is currently carried to Mexico on trucks… read more »

Strong Growth in the Transport Industry Fuels Investor Interest

The resurgence of the economy and the development of intermodal freight facilities have seen a return to investment in transport companies on the stock markets in recent months. The growing confidence that the improvements to the infrastructure have provided has created bullish markets for these companies who are also projecting increased earnings in the future. This is on the back of increased traffic that is expected across the US when the Panama Canal project winds up in 2015 when the anticipated higher volume of traffic impacts on the US intermodal network. Transport stocks have outperformed the general growth in the markets during 2012 and these prices seem set to continue to deliver higher returns. The improvement in employment figures as well as the beginning of a recovery in the housing market is also expected to lead to increases in consumer spending that will facilitate further growth in the transport sector. The railways are leading this return to the black, and due to the intensive refitting of many rail lines to be geared towards handling intermodal freight, their growth is expected to continue well into the coming years. After four years of declining demand for truck transport the situation is turning… read more »

Intermodal Ports Scramble to Restructure for the New Triple E Fleet

A new fleet of super-sized container ships is being launched into the world’s seaways and is set to have a significant impact on global intermodal freight capacity. The E Class ships are owned by the Maersk line, which claims that the ships will reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 50% with considerable savings in fuel as well1. Designed to be efficient freight carriers that are able to take advantage of the cost effectiveness of a larger economy of scale, these ships are able to carry 18,000 containers at once. While the technology and size of these super container ships has been in development, the seaports where they will eventually transport their goods have also been scrambling to upgrade their infrastructures and capacities to enable them to handle these giants. At present, only a handful of the world’s ports are capable of handling the behemoths, and they won’t be able to travel through the Panama Canal even after the redevelopment is finished in 2015. In the United Kingdom, only Southhampton and Felixstowe are currently capable of dealing with the E Class ships, and even these ports are limited in the volume of freight that they can accept. The new London… read more »

Increased Container Shipping Capacity in 2013 Stays One Step Ahead of Demand

With the launching of the giant Explorer Class container ship CMA CGM Marco Polo last year and the planned launching of her two sister ships due for 2013, it would seem that the capacity for container shipping would be easily keeping pace with the demand but this may not really be the case. The bulk of containers are carried by mid-sized vessels equipped to handle between 2,500 and 3,000 teus each and it is this sector of the containerized shipping industry that has been the hardest hit by the economic recession of the past decade. In recent years the oversupply of these small to mid-sized vessels has led to a great deal of volatility in shipping costs which has caused many of these smaller shipping companies to operate on very slim margins. At the same time the introduction of ships with larger capacities has contributed to widespread scrapping of the smaller ships which has in turn forced up demand for space on board the larger craft. This has pushed up the price which has discouraged many customers from employing the smaller shipping companies1. It is in Asia that these statistics are having the greatest impact. Because the bulk of freight… read more »

London’s New Container Shipping Port Shows the Way to Economic Recovery

The development of the new deepwater port at the mouth of the Thames has already made a significant investment in the economy of Britain by creating a huge number of jobs for its construction. The London Gateway will be at the forefront of technological innovation in the intermodal freight network and it is estimated that the port facilities alone will create 12,000 new jobs1 to handle the 3.5 million containers that its capacity will allow. The London Gateway will be Europe’s largest intermodal logistics hub and it is planned to be directly linked to road and rail arteries to make it the most efficient as well. This will ensure that the speed of delivery to market and the reduction of vehicles that travel ’empty miles’ will maximize the benefits of the new facilities2. This efficiency will also spread the benefits of the £3.2 billion in annual income that the new port is expected to earn. This will hopefully also transport the prosperity that is generated by the operation along the same network that it moves cargo. The demand for skilled labor to operate the terminal and other services that support the development have already had a knock on effect by… read more »

The Growth of Environmental Awareness in the Transport Industry

The transport industry is a major consumer of energy and most specifically it burns most of the world’s petroleum. The reliance on fossil fuels, especially in the trucking sector, also makes transport a major contributor of greenhouse gases into the environment. The rising costs of these fuels coupled with the need to improve on the impact that transport is having on the environment have inspired many transport companies to examine greener alternatives. The most obvious improvement that can be made to current transport methods is to move to using fuels with less environmental impact. For the trucking industry this means a shift away from fossil fuels to bio fuels or cleaner natural gas to power their fleets. Many see natural gas as the key to a more sustainable future both environmentally and economically. Natural gas, in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), produces over 25% less carbon emissions than diesel fuels. As one quarter of all of the carbon emissions in the US are generated by the transport industry, these reductions could make a significant improvement in the environment very quickly. Natural gas is also significantly cheaper than diesel and can reduce fuel bills… read more »

Is the Transport Industry Driving the Economy to Recovery?

Ever since the last spike was driven into the tracks of the first American transcontinental railway in 1869, the growth of the US economy has been tied to freight transport. The recent development of the intermodal capabilities and the general renovation of America’s rail networks have had a similar rejuvenating influence of the country’s economy. Many analysts have pointed to recent growth in the transport industry as an indicator of a rapidly recovering economy, and with the expected increase in business in the eastern states due to the completion of the Panama Canal in 2015, the future of the economy continues to look very good in the longer term as well. Transport is the fourth largest contributor to the economy behind housing, health care, and food, and it is a major contributor to the employment market with its fiscal influence extending indirectly to all parts of the economy as a whole. The improved efficiency of freight handling that the renovated intermodal networks will bring will keep transport costs down and further encourage growth in employment. This, in turn, is expected to fuel growth in consumer goods that will further increase the demand for transportation services1. Some estimates are projecting that… read more »

The Intermodal Future of American Freight

Since the freight transportation network first came under the government spotlight in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act1, the need to diversify the transport network has been a central issue in the development of planning and policy. This legislation, enacted in 1991, spurred the development of a modern intermodal transport network that is intended to increase the efficiency of freight handling practices across the nation. Important parts of the development have dealt with improving traffic flow to and from the major transport hubs with a strong focus on the roads that are used to connect different modes of mass transport, like sea and rail. A greater part of the difficulty for intermodal transport in the past was the lack of direct rail connections to many seaports that forced containers to be sent overland by truck, often over roads that were unsuited to the increased size and volume of the traffic2. The issues with the roadways are largely being addressed by the individual states with the introduction of fast transport corridors and improvements to the freeway system that connects the major seaports in the United States. The expected boom in freight handling along the Eastern seaboard has also seen extensive investment… read more »

Improvements to Europe’s Intermodal Network

One of the major goals of the unification of the European economic zone has been the improvement and standardization of the intermodal transport network that services Europe and Britain. The European Commission has been developing the transportation networks in parallel with upgrades to other networks such as telecommunications1 and as these various projects approach their completion, they are already having an impact on the intermodal freight industries across Europe. These improvements have linked the twelve major ports in Europe with an efficient network of transport options that rely heavily on the use of the renovated and modernized trans-European rail network2. At the same time, the canals and waterways that access central Europe have been modernized to become an integral part of the intermodal network in an effort to take the pressure off of Europe’s road network. These highways have also been upgraded to make them more efficient transport arteries and this is inspiring some large transport companies to adapt their own operations to take advantage of the improvements. European transport giant ModusLink Global Solutions recently announced plans to move much of its operations to a site that is has better access to the newly refurbished and upgraded transport infrastructure3. The… read more »