Intermodal Volume Posts Year’s Highest Gains

Domestic container volume posted its strongest growth of the year in Q3 2011, according to IANA’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report. Domestic container shipments increased 9.0% year-over-year during the quarter, slightly above the 8.8% and 8.6% upticks recorded in the first and second quarters of 2011. And in spite of a stagnant economy and falling diesel prices, overall intermodal volume still recorded its seventh consecutive quarter of year-over year gains.

Third Quarter 2011 Intermodal Volume Comparisons

Equipment Type

2010

2011

Change

Trailers

428,618

424,987

-0.8%

Domestic Containers

1,162,340

1,266,856

+9.0%

All Domestic Equipment

1,590,958

1,691,843

+6.3%

ISO Containers

2,012,044

1,960,667

-2.6%

Total

3,603,002

3,652,510

+1.4%

While domestic containers continued to gain market share from trucking, trailer volumes slipped 0.8% during the quarter as compared with last year. While rising diesel prices drove freight to trailers during the first half of the year, diesel prices began a decline in the third quarter which may have contributed to the decline in trailer activity in rail service.

Year-over-year international volume decreased a slight 2.6% during the quarter, as many ports recorded declines in import volumes. International units handled by rail did not mirror the decline in imports reported by most ports, suggesting that international volume may have gained share from highway movements.

Total intermodal volume did well to increase 1.4% year-over-year during the quarter—a smaller rate of growth than had been anticipated due to the economy’s fluctuations and very difficult comparisons to last year’s early peak, which was in August.

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