The work stoppages and potential for lengthy delays encountered by the much-heralded Panama Canal expansion project really couldn't have worked out any better for the major North American railroads. When the expansion was first announced, there were many who saw it as a potential killer of the rail service line. Now, it may be the other way around.
After decades of being treated like a second-class citizen, the threat posed by an expanded Canal and the growth of intermodal in recent years has caused the railroads to place an increased emphasis on service, in-transit visibility, and timeliness of both arrival times and container availability. Also, as the clear growth engine for the industry, the eastern and western railroads are offering more capacity and opening up new (or re-opening old) terminals to expand service offerings.
The result for shippers is increased options, better service, and aggressive pricing. And now, with the Canal's problems mounting and timeline being pushed further out, the project that was supposed to be the intermodal killer may open up an industry that is stronger than ever with a host of new, highly-satisfied customers in hand.
Take a closer look at this and other transportation topics in Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium's new report, Trends in the Transportation Industry.