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Experts Say Economy is in a Freight Decline, Three Major Railroads Team Up to Compete With CPKC, Top Airports by Cargo and Passenger Amounts in 2022

Apr 27, 2023

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Bill introduced to give FMC power to crack down on ocean carrier collusion. A bill to give federal maritime regulators more power to crack down on collusive shipping agreements among foreign ocean carriers was introduced Monday. The Ocean Shipping Competition Enforcement Act would allow the Federal Maritime Commission to block any agreements among carriers and marine terminal operators found to be unduly anticompetitive without having to first obtain a federal court order, according to FreightWaves. Currently, the FMC can’t block an agreement that it determines to be unreasonably anticompetitive on its own, but must petition the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to do so. If the court disagrees with the FMC’s assessment, the agreement automatically becomes effective. “Congress must ensure that the Federal Maritime Commission can do its job and fully enforce the law,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif said.

Experts say economy is in a freight decline. Ocean freight orders are down 50% year over year, which in turn is impacting both road and rail transportation. JB Hunt president Shelley Simpson said the industry was in the midst of a “freight recession” during a first-quarter conference call with analysts. A decrease in truck movements in and out of warehouses was tracked by a recent CNBC supply chain survey analyzing inventories and warehouse space, which combined with a 40% decrease in manufacturing orders foretells less freight movement by both truck and rail. According to CNBC, the supply chain data “fits into the broader picture of a contraction in global purchasing indexes, less spending on goods, and excess inventories.”


Georgia Ports Authority hits Ro/Ro cargo growth milestone. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has recorded eight consecutive months of growth in Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro/Ro) cargo handling. The Port of Brunswick processed 62,100 units of vehicles and heavy equipment in March, with Savannah’s Ocean Terminal contributing an additional 1,700 units, totaling 63,800 units–a 22% YOY increase. GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch accredits the success to new customers and increased trade with long-standing partners.

Major terminal expansion project in British Columbia receives approval. Canada is set to take on a significant container terminal expansion project in Delta, British Columbia after receiving approval from the Canadian government. The CAD $2 billion Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project will be important “for the country’s long-term trade growth and capacity needs,” according to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which is leading the project. The expansion will involve constructing new land and a three-berth marine container terminal near existing terminals at Roberts Bank, and will increase the west coast container capacity by roughly one-third, adding 2.4 million TEUs of capacity, according to gCaptain. The project is expected to create 18,000 construction jobs, 17,300 ongoing jobs, an estimated $3 billion in annual GDP upon completion, and $631 million in tax revenue for Canadian services.


NHTSA seeks to mandate side impact guards on heavy truck trailers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is revisiting a proposal to mandate the installation of side underride guards on heavy truck trailers. The proposal is in response to a “provision in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law requiring the secretary of transportation to conduct additional research to better understand side guards’ overall effectiveness and ‘assess the feasibility, benefits, costs and other impacts of installing side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers.’” NHTSA’s new Advisory Committee on Underride Protection will make recommendations to the secretary on safety regulations related to underride crashes, and is seeking comments through June 20.


Three major railroads team up to compete with CPKC. Three major railroads are agreeing to work together to compete with Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern. On Monday, Canadian National, Union Pacific and Grupo Mexico railroads announced that they will work together to “quickly move intermodal cars filled with shipping containers from Mexico north across the United States to the key hub of Chicago and further north into Canada.” This service will be in direct competition with CPKC’s single-line network that is currently the only railroad directly connecting all three North American countries. The three railroads said they “believe their service will be superior to CPKC because Grupo Mexico has a bigger rail network in Mexico and Union Pacific has a more direct route north to Chicago,” according to AP News.


Top airports by cargo and passenger amounts in 2022. Airports Council International (ACI) has revealed which airports were the busiest by passenger volume and by air freight in 2022. Hong Kong International Airport took the top spot as the world’s busiest air cargo hub, but its 4,199,196 metric tons of freight are just barely ahead of Memphis International Airport’s 4,042,679 metric tons. As far as passenger traffic, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport swept the floor with the competition, with nearly 20 million more passengers than the next highest airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International.


Singapore to accept proposals for creation of drone port this year. Singapore is looking to create a drone port for the delivery of ship supplies and is planning to launch a call for proposals (CFP) later this year. The move was announced at Singapore Maritime Week, according to Splash247. “The CFP will act as a pathfinder for public agencies and private companies to develop a concept of operations for drones that is suited to Singapore’s operating environment as a busy hub port,” said senior minister of state for finance and transport Chee Hong Tat.


Ground parcel delivery costs on the rise. Delivery costs for ground parcels hit a record high in Q1 according to the TD Cowen/AFS Freight Index. Annual rate hikes and fuel surcharges contributed to rising costs, but average discount increases of 1.6% helped soften the blow, according to SupplyChainDive.