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J.B. Hunt and BNSF Create Joint Initiative to Improve Intermodal Capacity Challenges

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

BNSF Railway Company and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. are launching a joint effort to substantially improve capacity in the intermodal marketplace while also meeting the expanding needs of current customers.

Demand for intermodal services has grown significantly in recent years as companies look to secure capacity, while reducing costs and their carbon footprint.

Based on current and projected trends, J.B. Hunt plans to grow its intermodal fleet to as many as 150,000 containers in the next three to five years, a 40+% increase from its count at the end of 2021. The company has completed more than four million intermodal loads since 2020.

“Over the past few years, intermodal has been disrupted by increased demand and tight capacity, resulting in poor container velocity and long dwell times,” said John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt. “Together, J.B. Hunt and BNSF will enhance their work to bring back the consistency and reliability customers expect with intermodal services and further embrace intermodal conversion and transloading services. This priority falls directly in line with J.B. Hunt’s mission statement to create the most efficient transportation network in North America.”

Looking forward and as part of the initiative, BNSF will increase capability at multiple intermodal facilities. To further integrate its joint service product with J.B. Hunt, BNSF is providing several property locations around key intermodal hubs in Southern California, Chicago, and other key markets to increase efficiency at terminals.

Additionally, BNSF will bolster its railcar equipment to accommodate the anticipated increase in container capacity, which will support efficient throughput and strong service performance.

In addition to growing its container count, J.B. Hunt will add supporting chassis based on market need. Over the years, both companies have invested billions of dollars to ensure intermodal’s ability to grow with customers and meet the increasing demand for intermodal services.

“More than 30 years ago, J.B. Hunt Transport Services and BNSF predecessor The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company loaded a Hunt trailer onto a railcar to help usher in the modern age of intermodal freight transport,” said Katie Farmer, BNSF president and CEO.

“BNSF’s industry-leading service combined with J.B. Hunt’s unparalleled intermodal product has set the standard for seamless door-to-door service. We will raise the bar on service to the next level through technology and innovation as we further integrate our platforms with real-time data exchanges. We want our customers to enjoy the best of both worlds: economical and environmentally friendly service delivered by transportation’s premium providers.”

The companies will leverage technology, including the industry leading J.B. Hunt 360°®, to improve efficiencies in rail transport. J.B. Hunt 360’s digital freight matching platform is one of the few in the industry to support intermodal services. Based on analysis of J.B. Hunt 360 transactions and annual bid activity, the company estimates that an additional 7 to 11 million shipments could be converted to intermodal, supporting long-term growth opportunities while avoiding carbon emissions.

J.B. Hunt and BNSF disrupted the transportation industry in 1989 by developing a double-stack shipping solution that would complement both rail and trucking services, a first for modern transportation. Today, J.B. Hunt operates the largest company-owned intermodal fleet in North America with more than 109,000 53’ containers supported by company-owned chassis and tractors.

BNSF operates the largest intermodal rail network handling roughly 1 million more intermodal units each year than any other railroad and through their investments offer the fastest intermodal route between Southern California and the Midwest.

© 2022 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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