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Rail News: Intermodal

IANA on 2014: North American intermodal volume reached highest growth rate since 2011


Gains last year in all four market segments — including a big push from strong domestic container traffic — propelled North American intermodal volume to its largest annual growth rate since 2011, according to the Intermodal Association of North America's (IANA) fourth-quarter and year-end Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report.

Despite the harsh winter weather that kicked off 2014, total intermodal volume increased 4.8 percent year over year to 16,276,892 units. Domestic container volume climbed 5.7 percent to 6,444,532 units, all domestic equipment volume grew 5.1 percent to 8,110,882 units, international container volume rose 4.4 percent to 8,166,010 units and trailer volume increased 2.9 percent to 1,666,350 units.

Domestic container traffic remained the intermodal workhorse it's been for four straight years and international container volume almost doubled its growth pace of the past three years, IANA officials said in the report.

"Intermodal performed well, despite industry-wide challenges. For the first time in four years, international, domestic container and trailer market segments all posted year-over-year growth," said IANA President and Chief Executive Officer Joni Casey. "And volume gains were widespread geographically, with eight out of nine regions recording increases during 2014."

In the fourth quarter, total intermodal volume rose 3 percent to 4,111,401 units compared with the same 2013 period. Domestic container volume climbed 5.1 percent to 1,672,332 units, all domestic equipment volume rose 4 percent to 2,099,647 units, international container volume ratcheted up 2.1 percent to 2,011,754 units and trailer volume inched up 0.1 percent to 427,315 units.

Intermodal Marketing Companies (IMCs) reported solid revenue growth in the quarter, with average revenue up 3.6 percent, IANA officials said. IMCs also reported "a respectable" 1.5 percent volume gain versus third-quarter levels, "which runs counter to normal seasonal trends and could be a signal that this segment is regaining some traction," they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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