U.S. freight traffic is going to continue to increase, further pressuring the roads, rails and waterways, states Ken Eriksen, vice president-transportation, Informa Econmics, speaking to the U.S. Grains Council's 46th Board of Delegates' Meeting last week.
Eriksen forecasted domestic freight traffic will increase 67% and general cargo 113%. These increases will intensify existing highway congestion at a time when rail mileage is decreasing and rail capacity is constrained by tunnel clearance, single track bridges and other infrastructure concerns.
Additional concerns with rail traffic include a slowing of the average train speed and rise in the terminal dwell time. Barges remain the most fuel-efficient transportation method, followed by rail and then truck. However, the barge fleet is aging rapidly - many should have been retired, but have remained in service, which will lead to a swell of retiring barges as traffic continues to build.
Meanwhile, fuel surcharges are contributing to record pricing on all transportation methods. Eriksen also notes that ocean freight is a rising wave with larger and larger ships coming on line, including a 96,000 TEU (20 feet equivalent units) containership.
Compared to the
The current capacity crunch on the