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IANA: Healthy international container traffic drove intermodal volume gain in 2017

International container volume grew 7.7 percent year over year in Q4 to 2,288,756 units.
Photo – Association of American Railroads

Strong flows of international (ISO) containers both in the fourth quarter and throughout 2017 helped drive up intermodal traffic last year, according to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).

In 4Q, ISO container volume grew 7.7 percent year over year to 2,288,756 units, contributing to a 5.8 percent gain in total intermodal volume, which reached 4,607,656 units in the period, according to IANA's Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report. Also in the quarter, total domestic equipment volume rose 4 percent to 2,318,900 units, the domestic container count increased 2.5 percent to 1,946,313 units and trailer traffic jumped 12.2 percent to 372,587 units compared with fourth-quarter 2016 figures.

The seven highest-density trade corridors accounted for 62 percent of total volume in Q4 and were up 3.7 percent collectively, the report states. The Eastern-Western Canada corridor expanded by 12.7 percent — exceeding all other lanes by a wide margin — while the Northeast-Midwest and South Central-Southwest corridors reached 5 percent growth, IANA officials in a press release.

For the full year, total intermodal volume climbed 4.7 percent to 17,935,309 units compared with 2016's mark. On a year-over-year basis, ISO container traffic grew 6.2 percent to 9,067,555 units, total domestic equipment volume rose 3.2 percent to 8,867,754 units, the domestic container count increased 2.7 percent to 7,561,472 units and trailer traffic jumped 6.4 percent to 1,306,280 units.

"Intermodal delivered in 2017, thanks in large part to growth on the international side," said IANA President and Chief Executive Officer Joni Casey. "The imbalance between imports and international volumes during 2016 has reversed, resulting in a strong … gain for the year."

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