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J.B. Hunt and BNSF Announced a Partnership to Improve Intermodal Capacity Challenges

J.B. Hunt and BNSF | March 17, 2022

BNSF Railway Company and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. have partnered to launch a joint effort aimed at substantially improving capacity in the intermodal marketplace in order to meet the expanding needs of their customers.

Intermodal services have seen a considerable increase in demand in recent years as businesses seek to secure capacity while lowering prices and carbon emissions. J.B. Hunt plans to grow its intermodal fleet to 150,000 containers in the next three to five years, a 40 percent increase from its present count at the end of 2021, based on existing and expected trends. From 2020, the organization has completed over four million intermodal cargoes.

 “Increased demand and constrained capacity have disturbed intermodal in recent years, leading to low container velocity and high dwell times. J.B. Hunt and BNSF will collaborate to restore the consistency and reliability that consumers demand from intermodal services, as well as expand intermodal conversion and transloading services. This goal is in line with J.B. Hunt's mission statement, which is to "build the most efficient transportation network in North America."

-John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt

J.B. Hunt will increase its container count while also adding supporting chassis based on market demand. Together both companies have spent billions of dollars to make sure that intermodal can grow with customers and meet the growing demand for intermodal services.

“For more than 30 years, J.B. Hunt Transport Services and BNSF's predecessor, Santa Fe Railway Company, The Atchison, Topeka, and 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 services combined with J.B. Hunt's unrivalled intermodal products have established a new benchmark for seamless door-to-door transportation. Combining our platforms with real-time data exchanges will raise the bar on service to the next level through technology and creativity. The aim is to provide the best of both worlds: cost-effective and ecologically responsible service from the industry's top providers.

The companies will leverage technology, including the industry-leading J.B. Hunt 360°®, to boost rail transport efficiencies. The 360°® is one of the few digital freight matching platforms in the industry that supports intermodal services. According to J.B. Hunt's research of 360 transactions and annual bid activity, an additional 7 to 11 million tons of cargo might be converted to intermodal, allowing for long-term growth while reducing carbon emissions.

In 1989, J.B. Hunt and BNSF created a first for modern transportation by inventing a double-stack shipping solution that would complement both rail and trucking services. With more than 109,000 53' containers with company-owned chassis and tractors, J.B. Hunt now has the largest company-owned intermodal fleet in North America. BNSF owns and operates the world's largest intermodal rail network, transporting over a million intermodal units per year than any other railroad. Thanks to their investments, they also own the fastest intermodal route between Southern California and the Midwest.

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