Call it good news in the pandemic but an influx of cargo arriving at U.S. ports of entry, including south Texas, is putting a strain on rail services after months of lowered demand. Signs are starting to show it may be a merrier Christmas than was previously anticipated.
Rail operators pulled over 4,000 intermodal railcars out of storage last month to meet an increased demand, according to the Association of American Railroads. Intermodal loads were up nearly 25% in the week ending September 5, compared to the same week in 2019. It's also the highest weekly total since early January. Total volume surged a third higher compared to the lowest point of freight movements in mid-April.
Union Pacific has reported to have raised surcharges on some of their West Coast routes for customers that have needed more cargo moved than was anticipated in their contracts. Trucking companies have also been hard hit and searching the market for additional drivers to handle the influx of goods. Domestic freight charges to customers may continue to trend upward as demand continues.
The National Retail Federation reported that August estimates for twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEU's) were the highest for any month since 2002, showing that there were over 2 million loaded containers received at U.S. ports.