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12/5/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal traffic continues up-and-down trend in the third quarter, IANA says


Third-quarter intermodal traffic, while down 2 percent overall compared with third-quarter 2000, offered one bright spot: Domestic container traffic rose 5.9 percent, according to Intermodal Association of North America's (IANA) Rail Intermodal Traffic Report released Dec. 5.
Trailer traffic continued to decline, dropping 10.5 percent, while international container traffic decreased 1.4 percent compared with the same 2000 period, mostly due to eroding import traffic and declining exports.
Domestic container traffic rose 2 percent in July and August but dipped 1 percent in September — most of September's containers already were enroute before Sept. 11 and those shipments might have been delayed at ports, causing the container figures to roll over into the fourth quarter, IANA says.
Several intermodal corridors — which recorded a minimum of 100,000 units — posted mixed results compared with third-quarter 2000: South Central/Southwest corridor traffic rose 3.7 percent due to strong eastbound container shipments; Midwest/Southwest corridor traffic increased 1.3 percent based on 6.3 percent eastbound container-traffic and 2.1 percent westbound container-traffic increases; Midwest/Northwest corridor traffic (containers and trailers) declined for the third consecutive quarter; and Northeast/Midwest corridor traffic was relatively flat as container traffic rose 9 percent but trailer traffic dropped 10.2 percent.
Meanwhile, IANA also Dec. 5 released its Intermodal Marketing Company (IMC) Market Activity Report, which states that total third-quarter intermodal and highway loads declined 9.8 percent compared with the same 2000 period.
Total revenue dropped 1 percent while average revenue per intermodal load increased 16.9 percent compared with last year.
IANA's report suggests that IMCs either are obtaining rate increases or holding onto higher-rated business.
The report also offers some cautious optimism for a not-too-distant future economic recovery, citing Congress' consideration of an economic stimulus package, the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate cuts and business inventories' continuing decline, which might set the stage for more replenishment shipments when the economy starts to recover.


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