'It's gonna be backed up': Potential rail strike could impact trucking industry

Jamiese Price Image
Thursday, September 15, 2022
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A potential railroad worker strike could impact the U.S. trucking industry.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A potential railroad worker strike could impact the U.S. trucking industry. According to the Association of American Railroads, about 467,000 additional long-haul trucks per day would be needed to handle the freight currently carried by rail.

Truck drivers say a possible strike could stress their already strained industry. Longtime Driver Larry Cuffy said a strike would create a high demand for their services, but truck drivers by law are still only allowed the same amount of time on the road.

"It's gonna be backed up," Cuffy said.

He described what could be a full railyard of freight waiting to be transported.

"It's gonna be a stress on what's there at the rail yard, and it's gonna stay there until it gets pulled out and delivered," continued Cuffy.

Other drivers like Lisa McDowell said a potential strike could come at a bad time for their industry when the price to transport a load is lower, while the price of fuel is higher.

"There'll be more loads because a lot more people are turning them down. And the fuel has a lot to do with that too because if it doesn't make sense to go get that load and then it sits there," McDowell said.

Todd Spencer is the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represent the interests of about 150,000 professional drivers across the country. He said a railroad worker strike would shine a light on the problems faced in the trucking industry .

"There is a little bit of slack but not nearly not enough slack to make up for the increased cargo that a rail shut down would cause," Spencer said.

According to the American Trucking Association, trucking is the largest customer of the rail industry, and both industries rely on one another through "intermodal" shipping.

"Just about 45% of the cargo that moves on trains currently consists of intermodal freight. And intermodal freight is freight that moves parts of the way across the country on trains, but then it will ultimately end up on their back end of a truck to be delivered to where it's going to actually be put to service." explained Spencer. "And of course, all of that freight can move by truck, it just means greater demand for truckers, and longer hauls, as opposed to the shorter ones."

The potential railroad strike could happen as early as Friday at midnight impacting nearly 115,000 rail workers.