Is intermodal going off the rails?

Intermodal rejection rates peaked near all-time highs over the past month as volumes fell. Looking over the past few months, volumes, measured by FreightWaves Outbound Loaded Container Volume Index (ORAILL), were actually higher in March and April while rejection rates fell below 2%. With trucking capacity extremely tight, are intermodal providers losing market share?

It is counterintuitive to see demand (volumes) fall and capacity appear to tighten — indicated by an increase in tender rejections. It seems as though intermodal carriers are reducing their available capacity for contracted customers. It is rare to see an intermodal tender rejection due to the nature of the business. Many providers automatically accept load requests because it is almost like guaranteed capacity — but the service is not.

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