After years of what could best be described as a chilly relationship, relations among truckers and railroads have apparently thawed. During a roundtable discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in June, more than one participant noted that the world of freight transportation today is far less adversarial than at any time in the past.
What's changed? The most likely explanation lies in the fact that the former rivals now find themselves doing business with one another. John Lanagan, chief marketing officer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, for instance, noted that almost two-thirds of his railroad's highest-volume customers are companies that it once competed against. "Three of the top 10 BNSF customers are truckers," he reported. "Three more are steamship lines.We don't look at them as competitors … so much as we look at them as partners."