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Rail News: Intermodal

IANA on 2Q: Strong domestic container business helped drive intermodal traffic gain


Domestic container volume continued to propel intermodal traffic in the second quarter, according to the Intermodal Association of North America's (IANA) quarterly "Market Trends and Statistics" report.

The domestic container count in the quarter climbed 9 percent year over year to 1,518,085 units, helping total volume rise 2.4 percent to 3,855,581 units.

Total domestic equipment volume reached 1,915,334 units, up 6.5 percent compared with second-quarter 2012. Trailer volume totaling 397,249 units fell 2.5 percent, less than half the decline the sector registered in the first quarter.

"Domestic container volume was the foundation of intermodal growth in both the second quarter and year to date," said IANA President and Chief Executive Officer Joni Casey in the report. "Despite some segments slowing in the second quarter, [our] data confirms the industry's underlying momentum."

International container volume was one of the slowing segments, tumbling 1.3 percent year over year to 1,940,247 units. The segment was unable to build upon a "solid" first quarter, when volume rose 3 percent, IANA officials said.

"This decline can be attributed to surprisingly weak shipments in June, with loads falling 6 percent from a year ago," they said. "It is unclear if the June trail off is an indicator of more to come or if the 6 percent dip is an outlier."

The report also shows that the Southeast Region was "the clear leader" in the second quarter, with volume up 8.1 percent as domestic container business jumped 12.4 percent, surpassing the industry average of 9 percent. International volume in the Southeast also bested industry statistics, posting a 6.7 percent gain versus a 1.3 percent drop nationwide, the report states.

However, intermodal marketing company volume slowed and intermodal loads ended up gaining only 1.1 percent versus 2.2 percent in Q1, IANA officials said.