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  May 29th, 2016 | Written by

Intermodal Volumes Up in First Quarter

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  • Total intermodal container shipments rose five percent during the first quarter of this year.
  • Joni Casey, CEO of IANA. “We’re cautiously optimistic about this year’s growth potential.”

First quarter 2016 performance for intermodal transportation in North America showed strength, despite down results in the trailer segment.

The Intermodal Association of North America’s Q1 Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report showed intermodal trailer volumes declined a significant 24.4 percent. However, this market segment represents the smallest portion of total intermodal shipments and has been losing ground over the last several years, the report noted.

On the bright side, domestic container loads recorded a 6.4 percent increase and combined with 3.8 percent gains in international volumes, netting a two-percent total growth for the quarter.

“Total container shipments, domestic and international combined, rose approximately five percent during the first quarter of this year,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “And while influenced by comparisons to last year when we were dealing with port congestion issues, we’re cautiously optimistic about this year’s growth potential.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors, accounting for 63.4 percent of total intermodal volume, increased 4.7 percent against the more modest industry gain. While growth rates for each individual corridor varied widely, all were positive. The Midwest-Northwest corridor led with 10.1 percent, reflecting the strength of both international and domestic containers. Likewise, the Midwest-Southwest lane, which had the highest overall share of volume, grew 8.7 percent on container traffic that more than offset a decline in trailers.

Weak international container imports incurred negative growth in specific regions, including Mexico, a new addition to the IMTS report. Exposure to trailer declines affected the regional picture more broadly. Nonetheless, the Mountain Central, Northwest, Southwest and Eastern Canada regions all had significantly greater than average intermodal growth rates.

Intermodal marketing companies again demonstrated clear gains in the highway sector, up 15.4 percent from the previous year, thanks to excess trucking capacity. Intermodal loads fell 13 percent. The net result was a volume decrease of 1.1 percent.