Intermodal contract savings versus truckload (IMCSI)


The percent difference between the domestic intermodal contract rate per mile (all-inclusive) and the truckload contract rate per mile (all-inclusive) on the same lane (i.e., same origin-destination pair). The Intermodal Savings Index tickers are derived from the SONAR contract rate data described here but with a key difference of these being calculated as all-in rates versus transportation only. 

The Intermodal Savings Index is reported in SONAR on a national level and is broken down in two ways:

  1. Length of haul – long (>1,200 miles; LIMSCI), medium (800-1,200 miles; MIMSCI), short (SIMCSI 400-800 miles), and overall (all lanes >400 miles).
    1. In general, longer lengths of haul will result in a larger “intermodal savings” because the lower per-mile costs of the railroad portion of the move represents a greater portion of the overall door-to-door movement.
  2. When volumes are reported – For each length of haul, there is one ticker for the initial report, which takes place within two weeks of the freight movement. Not all of the data is reported within two weeks of shipping, so the initial ticker has less shipments compared to the final ticker (“Final/F” tickers), which includes invoices reported up to eight weeks after the shipping date.

The tickers are as follows:

  • Intermodal savings, initial, all lengths of haul – IMCSI1.USA
  • Intermodal savings, final, all lengths of haul – IMCSF.USA
  • Intermodal savings, initial, long hauls – LIMCSI1.USA
  • Intermodal savings, final, long hauls – LIMCSIF.USA
  • Intermodal savings, initial, medium hauls – MIMCSI1.USA
  • Intermodal savings, final, medium hauls – MIMCSIF.USA
  • Intermodal savings, initial, short hauls – SIMCSI1.USA
  • Intermodal savings, final, short hauls – SIMCSIF.USA


Shippers, carriers, intermodal marketing companies and analysts


The intermodal contract indices show the average percent difference between intermodal contract rates and truckload rates on the same lane. The indices, therefore, show the percent savings that shippers might expect to receive on a freight contract for using domestic intermodal rather than truckload. The savings associated with intermodal relative to truckload, which is typically around 10%-15%, is intended to compensate shippers for the typically lower service level associated with intermodal.

The initial reports give the quickest view of the direction of the potential savings while sacrificing a level of accuracy for quicker decision making. The final reports offer a much cleaner view, having the majority of the reports for that time period for validation and historical reporting.

Search Knowledge Center

Related Topics

Inbound Rail Market Share (IRAILMS)

Outbound Rail Market Share (ORAILMS)

Intermodal Spread – China North American East-West Spread

Not Sure Where To Start?