The Impact of COVID-19 on Intermodal Freight

The Impact of COVID-19 on Intermodal Freight

September 10, 2021

Wondering how COVID-19 has affected intermodal freight, including drayage shipping? From supply chain disruptions to labor shortages, there’s a lot for shipping companies to keep in mind as the pandemic continues into its third year. Read on to learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on freight.

What is intermodal transportation?

Intermodal transportation involves the movement of cargo from its origin to its destination by at least two forms of transit, including rail, air, sea, land and pipeline. Transfer from one mode to the other occurs at intermodal terminals around the world.

Several transportation methods make up the intermodal freight transportation chain, and they interact with each other to provide door-to-door service of goods. Common forms of intermodal transportation include the movement of cargo containers using trucks, railways and ocean shipping.

The trucking industry plays a major role in intermodal transportation, transporting freight in containers or taking “first- and last-mile” pallet loads from rail terminals to warehouses. Chassis shortages and an unprecedented labor shortage are causing delays in the trucking industry, significantly affecting intermodal freight and delaying the movement of cargo.

How has intermodal freight been affected by COVID-19?

When it comes to COVID-19 and freight, particularly intermodal freight, shippers have seen plenty of disruption, which is set to continue due to the new Omicron variant. Restrictions sent cargo volumes plummeting, and there are plenty of other ripple effects to consider. Currently, intermodal spot rates and volumes are on the rise. Recent data shows a rise in volume, with weekly intermodal traffic up 31 percent in the year 2021.

The pandemic and supply chain disruptions have also resulted in changes in costs to move intermodal loads. Cost variations are rising steeply, with a more than 50 percent change between 2020 and 2021. The intermodal freight industry is in a different place than it was last year, signaling the hope for a continued recovery. While consumer spending is up and there’s plenty of demand for goods, the pandemic situation continues to rage on, likely complicating logistics operations for the near future.

What are the solutions to today’s transportation challenges?

Intermodal transportation can be made more efficient, even during a challenging time like a pandemic. A few suggestions to make operations easier include:

  • Plan properly: When it comes to intermodal transportation, there are plenty of moving parts. Proper planning benefits both suppliers and carriers, helping companies design, plan and operate intermodal transportation networks.
  • Switch to universal containers: One of the most effective ways to move from modalism to intermodalism is to use containers that are consistently sized.
  • Perform preventative maintenance: Keeping your cargo handling equipment in good working condition is essential for every intermodal transportation operation. Intermodal transportation prioritizes efficiency, and it can’t be achieved with malfunctioning or failed cargo handling equipment.

Drayage shipping is more challenging than ever due to the global pandemic. It makes sense to work with a team of experts like those at All Points Transport to help you weather the storm, create stability and protect your business during these challenging times. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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