Statement of Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel on the Union Pacific’s Change of Policy to Allow Private Chassis Choice
I want to recognize the Union Pacific (UP) for announcing the implementation of an alternative to allow a private chassis choice policy starting May 1st.
This change of policy will allow truck drivers who own their chassis the ability to pick up a customer’s container at UP rail yards. I believe this will better serve customers and will help provide greater operational clarity within the supply chain. Prior to this change, truck drivers, even in circumstances when no intermodal chassis were available, were not authorized to use their own intermodal chassis to pick up containerized cargo, contributing to inefficiency and the potential implementation of needless penalties for demurrage.
It is important that operational policies undergo continual review to ensure the practice has justification in cost and operational efficiency. Until this recent announcement, it is my understanding that most other North American railroads allowed truckers to use their own chassis, with the imposition of reasonable fees for adjustment to handling costs. There are many issues to consider regarding restrictions on intermodal choice, however I think in this instance, common sense prevailed to allow greater flexibility to move containerized cargo.
Carl W. Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.