This Week in SONAR: Rail and Next Day Rack Price Data!

We’re regularly enhancing and improving SONAR to meet the needs of the ever-changing freight market and the needs of our customers. To help keep SONAR users informed, we deliver a brief recap of newly released data sets, market indices, and product feature improvements in our This Week in SONAR series.

Outbound Rail Containers, Michael Baudendistel, Market Expert, FreightWaves: FreightWaves is expanding the ORAIL and the IRAIL intermodal data series to include weekly, fortnightly, monthly and yearly changes.

The ORAIL and IRAIL data series display the daily volume of non-refrigerated intermodal containers in the U.S. and Canada outbound or inbound from a particular metro area (or x-market in SONAR) or between origin-destination pairs. As an alternative to presenting the data as an absolute number of containers, the new data series ORAILW, ORAILF, ORAILM, and ORAILY present the data relative to one week ago, one fortnight ago, one month ago and one year ago, respectively. A positive number indicates there is more volume in/out of a specified market or specified origin-destination pair.


Using ORAILY/IRAILY to compare intermodal container volume to the year-ago level is helpful in eliminating the impact of seasonality and helps analysts evaluate upcoming earnings announcements from the publicly traded carriers.


Some examples include ORAILY.LAX (intermodal container volume outbound from Los Angeles versus one year ago), IRAILM.CHI (intermodal container volume inbound to Chicago versus one month ago) and ORAILW.LAXCHI (intermodal container volume in the LA-to-Chicago lane versus one week ago).

A comprehensive list of new Rail Container Volme tickers is listed below:

  • ORAILW – Total Outbound Rail Container Volume Weekly Change
  • ORAILF – Total Outbound Rail Container Volume Fortnightly Change
  • ORAILM – Total Outbound Rail Container Volume Monthly Change
  • ORAILY – Total Outbound Rail Container Volume Yearly Change
  • IRAILW – Total Inbound Rail Container Volume Weekly Change
  • IRAILF – Total Inbound Rail Container Volume Fortnightly Change
  • IRAILM – Total Inbound Rail Container Volume Monthly Change
  • IRAILY – Total Inbound Rail Container Volume Yearly Change

ULSD Next Day Rack Price, John Kingston, Market Expert, FreightWaves: FreightWaves is launching the Forecasted Overnight Change in ULSD Rack price data series on a daily basis.

The Forecasted Overnight Change in ULSD Rack price is the difference (in cents) between the current rack price for a gallon of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), and the forecasted price tomorrow. Based on more than a year of history, this forecast predicts the up/down direction correctly more than 90% of the time. This is also especially useful for map display.

SONAR Map with ULSD Next Day Rack Price Layer

Interest in the data series will be anybody with an exposure to the price of diesel fuel. But in particular, those companies with exposure to the price in different cities will find value in the FULSD series. It can give a company that is a buyer of diesel fuel in multiple locations the ability to see how prices are trending in various markets, without waiting for the company-issued rack prices to actually be released. We will provide this data in cities across the U.S. It can give a buyer several hours advance indication of where the rack price is likely to be.


The wholesale price of diesel, known in industry parlance as the “rack,” is made up of several key components. The price of ultra low sulfur diesel on the CME exchange is the starting point.

Next, there are five key individual markets where commercial interests freely trade diesel and other petroleum commodities: the New York harbor and related Atlantic Coast markets; the U.S. Gulf Coast; the Chicago market; a Midwest area known as Group 3, which includes the Kansas/Missouri/Oklahoma region; and the U.S. West Coast. Prices there are traded as a differential to that CME price. For example, a sale of physical diesel in the Gulf Coast market might get done at a price of ULSD CME minus 3 cts.


The individual rack markets then key off the relevant physical market. Atlanta, for example, receives petroleum products via pipeline from the Gulf Coast. A company setting its rack price for Atlanta would look to see what the physical market did in the Gulf Coast before setting its number. A Milwaukee rack price would look to Chicago, and so on. Companies setting their price would look to the CME price and the physical price to set their rack number. But they might also make adjustments based on particular local conditions. 


The FULSD data series will take all these inputs into account to offer a projected rack price and the size of the change for hundreds of locations, giving buyers a signal on where prices are headed before they are actually implemented.

All previous SONAR release notes are available HERE. Learn more by using Sue Says in SONAR and clicking on the orca! If you have any questions, please reach out to your Customer Success rep or email

SONAR is the fastest and most comprehensive freight market data and analytics platform in the world. These are just a few of the hundreds of unique data sets available to SONAR subscribers. Not a SONAR user yet? Sign up for a free test drive here.