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11/12/2008



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

IANA 3Q report: Domestic intermodal traffic surges, international traffic sputters


The ups and downs of North American intermodal traffic were evident in the third quarter. In keeping with a recurring theme from the past several quarters, domestic intermodal traffic surged and international traffic sputtered, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s (IANA) quarterly “Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics” report.

Domestic container volume jumped 10.5 percent to 1 million units and total domestic equipment volume rose 6.7 percent to 1.5 million units compared with third-quarter 2007’s totals. Overall, domestic intermodal posted its best performance since second-quarter 2004, the report states.

“This solid performance helped boost overall year-to-date domestic growth up by 4.7 percent,” IANA said.

Domestic container growth — which achieved its best quarterly gain since 1999 — was driven by a 16.1 percent surge in 53-foot containers. The Midwest-Northeast corridor, where eastbound shipments jumped 15 percent and westbound shipments rose 6 percent, posted strong domestic growth, the report states.

Meanwhile, domestic trailer volume inched up 0.2 percent year over year to 527,840 units.

“A first in more than three years, trailers had their second con-secutive quarter of volume gains, which were primarily driven by a 10.4 percent increase in 53-foot units,” IANA said.

On the international side of the ledger, ISO container volume decreased 6.1 percent to 2 million units and total international volume declined 1 percent to 3.6 million units compared with third-quarter 2007 totals. Through 2008’s first nine months, ISO container volume fell 5.7 percent.

“Continued weakness in consumer spending depressed container imports and overall international results,” IANA said. “[But] in spite of a weak economy, total intermodal volume has held up relatively well. To date, shipments are only 1.6 percent below last year’s numbers.”


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