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11/24/2009



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. ports might pump up container volume come February, 'Port Tracker' says


In February, volume at major U.S. container ports will break what figures to be a 31-month streak of year-over-year declines, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) and IHS Global Insight’s latest “Port Tracker” report.

The 10 surveyed U.S. ports handled 1.14 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in September, down 3 percent from August’s volume and 16 percent from September 2008’s level. Volume for October was estimated at 1.17 million TEUs, which would represent a 15 percent year-over-year decline, while November volume is forecasted to drop 11 percent to 1.09 million TEUs, December volume is projected to be about flat at 1.06 million TEUs and January volume is predicted to decrease 3 percent to 1.03 million TEUs.

January’s volume would mark the 31st month of year-over-year declines, but February volume is expected to rise 16 percent to 973,872 TEUs, according to Port Tracker. March volume then is forecasted to increase 5 percent to 1.02 million TEUs.

“This could be the turnaround we've been waiting to see for a long time," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a prepared statement. “There’s not enough data yet to establish a clear trend, but we’re hopeful that this is a sign of recovery.”

Port Tracker projects that 2009 volume will total 12.7 million TEUs, a 16.8 percent decline compared with 2008 volume. The ’09 total would be the lowest since 2003’s 12.47 million TEUs.


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