Domestic Intermodal Volumes Reach Record Levels

Intermodal volumes increased 20.3% year-over-year in Q3 2010, as international led the way with a 28.1% upsurge, according to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). IANA’s analysisalso shows that domestic intermodal volume hit a new all-time peak in Q3 2010, advancing 11.7% year-over-year.

While domestic container volume increased a solid 13% during the quarter, it may have been higher, as data indicates some domestic container shipments may have been limited by capacity constraints. Such constraints may have compelled some shippers to use trailers, as trailer volume advanced a healthy 8.5% during the quarter.

Third Quarter 2010 Intermodal Volume Comparisons:

Equipment Type

2009

2010

Change

Trailers

395,308

428,767

+8.5%

Domestic Containers

1,028,989

1,162,460

+13.0%

All Domestic Equipment

1,424,297

1,591,227

+11.7%

ISO Containers

1,570,746

2,011,775

+28.1%

Total

2,995,043

3,603,002

+20.3%

Domestic container shipments continue to outpace the overall economic recovery, as it continues to increase share over other transportation modes. While many domestic container fleet operators have placed orders for new containers, containership capacity constraints have prevented many of these orders from being filled. As a result, there are fewer domestic containers available to handle surging demand.

A side effect of the domestic container shortage is that it has driven some growth into trailer movements. With the resurgence in international intermodal and continued gains in domestic containers, intermodal shipments are well on their way to regaining the ground lost during the recession – Q3 2010 volumes were only 2.6% below the previous peak levels of 2008.

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