USA Truck adds domestic containers to intermodal offerings through a deal with BNSF
August 23, 2010 - LM Editorial
Dry van truckload carrier USA Truck has expanded its intermodal menu, announcing it recently inked a long-term contract with Class I railroad carrier BNSF Railway to move private 53-foot domestic intermodal containers.
Company officials said USA Truck moved its first rail intermodal load in December 2007 and two years later had 69 percent year-over-year intermodal growth in 2009 and 50 percent growth for the first half of 2010. They said the majority of that revenue came from intermodal trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) service, adding that adding private intermodal containers through this deal provides it with an opportunity to continue to grow on the intermodal side.
Adding containers to its intermodal lineup is something USA Truck been planning on for more than two years, said Chad Van Kooten, USA Truck vice president of sales and intermodal, in an interview.
“The container-on-a-flat-car (COFC) market is something we wanted to get into, but we wanted to have a better understanding of it, so we introduced the TOFC service, which is still the majority of intermodal business we do today, first,” said Van Kooten. “We saw this as a great opportunity to introduce containers to our customer base and further diversify our intermodal product.”
Van Kooten said USA Truck has had a relationship—BNSF’s run of TOFC products—since it got into the intermodal sector. He explained that BNSF knew USA Truck had wanted to get into the intermodal market for some time, which led to meetings between the companies, coupled with BNSF providing USA Truck with some intermodal containers, and a subsequent official partnership.
Van Kooten declined to disclose specifics regarding the contractual terms between USA Truck and BNSF, due to a non-disclosure agreement between the companies.
“Our customer base is very diversified; we will introduce this product to some of our core customers and also those outside of core customer base,” he said. “It also gives us a bigger slice of the rail intermodal business.”
And as freight transportation capacity has tightened over the last several months, Van Kooten said USA Truck expects to be able to offer shippers additional capacity through this partnership.
This news is reflective of the increased traction domestic intermodal continues to gain in recent quarters, especially on the container side. As an example, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) recently reported that domestic container loadings in the second quarter at 1,128,108 were up 16.4 percent.