UP, CSX Team Up On Domestic Intermodal

CSX Transportation in the eastern United States and Union Pacific Railroad in the West will soon be jointly marketing a domestic intermodal service in jumbo-sized containers.

Dubbed UMAX, the service will give customers single-bill interline routing on more than 600 traffic lanes, and the railroads are backing it up with 20,000 of the big 53-foot boxes.

The carriers said UMAX begins operating March 29, with door-to-door service that will be competitive with trucks by combining short-haul trucking with long-distance rail.

"In a word, UMAX offers customers more," said James Hertwig, president of CSX Intermodal. "We will jointly offer more containers and more lanes to more customers with more competitive schedules than ever."

John Kaiser, UP vice president and general manager for intermodal, said the service "will offer extensive market access and expanded capacity across a nationwide intermodal network."

This is the latest in a series of high-profile intermodal moves among the railroads, as carriers vie to boost their service times, partner with each other or intermodal shipment consolidators and try to build market share.

UP last year renegotiated a long-term space and pricing contract with Pacer International that allowed the railroad to directly take over more domestic business. Before that it lured Hub Group to shift much of its western-U.S. traffic onto UP from rival BNSF Railway.

In the East, intermodal trucker J.B. Hunt selected Norfolk Southern Railway as its regional partner. And both NS and CSX are trying to improve higher-capacity, long-distance doublestack corridors to pull more box shipments onto their trains and off the highways.

- John D. Boyd, The Journal of Commerce.