Supply Chain News / Economic Development

Rails Fare Best in Economic Outlook

October 8, 2012
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The results of the Freight Pulse 27 Shipper Survey reflect a stable outlook on the economy.

Shippers remain constructive on rail, while expect truck and parcel volume growth to decelerate slightly. Rail and parcel air & international shippers expect accelerating pricing, while truck shippers see deceleration in pricing gains ahead.

Some highlights from the 145 page report, which can be downloaded here, can be found below:


  • Shippers' economic outlook stable;
  • Chemical shippers most upbeat outlook on GDP, auto most pessimistic;
  • Restocking plans still on hold for now;
  • TL capacity expectations loosen the most from prior survey;
  • Shipper perceptions remain strong for rail carload on service and value for dollar.


  • Rail volume growth expectations stable at 3 percent;
  • Shipper expectations on rail rates accelerating slightly;
  • Intermodal discount to TL climbs from historical survey low;
  • Shippers switching rails more often, rail rate negotiations more difficult;
  • Rail service reliability and value for dollar stable.


  • Shipper truck volume growth expectations decelerating across all segments;
  • Trucking rate growth expectations slow to ≈1.5 percent;
  • Shippers' expectations on truckload capacity eased the most;
  • Expectations on truck spend moderate across all segments;
  • Factors driving intermodal growth unchanged, value perceptions remain highest.


  • Shippers expect volume growth to decelerate for air & ground, flat for international;
  • Rate growth expectations decelerate for ground, but accelerate for air & international;
  • Shippers indicate increased B2C shipments, a negative for mix;
  • Product mix shift from premium service to standard ground shipping continues;
  • Carrier switching falls across segments.
Source: Morgan Stanley
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