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Transportation Industry Updates October 2017

Every month we report on the latest industry trends that help us plan for the future. Take a look at the latest third-quarter trends.

U.S. Trucking
The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index increased 5.8% year over year in July 2017. The Truck Tonnage Index measures the total weight of freight transported by motor carriers for a given month. The index serves as a way to measure shipping activity in the U.S., and can help determine the state of the economy.

Dry-van spot market rates through late September 2017 were $2.21 per mile on a four-week rolling average, which is up 25.6% year over year. The higher rates are most likely due to a combination of higher fuel surcharges, less capacity, natural disaster relief efforts and strong import volumes.

Through late September 2017, flatbed rates in the spot market were $2.26 per mile on a trailing four-week basis, which is up 26.3% year over year. The improvement is likely due to continued strong industrial demand, higher fuel surcharges and FEMA related hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and the Southeast. Shippers are proactively approaching flatbed carriers and offering higher rates to secure trucks and move freight.

Rail Trends
CSX reported the third-quarter rail volumes were down 0.5% year over year, while Norfolk Southern reported carloads were up 3.8% year over year during the same time period. The Eastern rail carriers saw improved coal, chemicals and intermodal volumes with Norfolk Southern, benefiting from share gains due to recent CSX services issues.

Union Pacific reported the third-quarter rail volumes are down 0.3% year over year and BNSF reported that volumes are up 3.4% year over year. Frac sand and chemical products continue to trend higher compared to prior years, offset by substantial declines in grain, petroleum and automotive freight.

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