Slowdown Stalls Nation's Freight Carriers

Haulers are hunkering down for a 'nuclear winter' in 2009
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Dec 11, 2008 3:21 PM CST
Cargo lines are holding back on ordering new equipment, like the Kenworth T2000, until the economy rebounds.   (Photo: Business Wire)
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(Newser) – With freight carriers predicting 2009 could be the worst year in three decades, some haulers  say they’re “settling in for nuclear winter,” holding off on making capital expenditures, mothballing equipment and laying off employees, reports the Wall Street Journal. From truckers to railroads to ocean shipping, companies are scaling back sharply.

Vessels are being docked, rail cars sidelined, and purchases of new tractor-trailers are 64% off 2006, causing several plants to close. Even though Christmas is just around the corner—usually a peak period for shippers—trucking volume is down 6.3% from July through October, with December looking like “it could actually be worse," said one analyst.