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Rail News: Intermodal

Railroads should expect more moderate intermodal traffic growth, Rail Theory Forecasts says


North American intermodal traffic has been booming for a long time, but the boom period might be drawing to a close. By 2005’s end, railroads’ year-over-year intermodal growth will drop to 3.8 percent, predicts market analysis and rail industry forecasting firm Rail Theory Forecasts L.L.C.

Railroads’ intermodal loads, which increased 10.4 percent last year compared with 2003, will grow less than 6 percent this year compared with 2004. During 2005’s first five months, intermodal loads rose 7.2 percent compared with the same 2004 period, but recent trends suggest a 5.7 percent increase for rest of the year, Rail Theory Forecasts officials said in a prepared statement.

The firm employs a statistical model to predict intermodal growth based on several factors, including the value of merchandise imports and retail sales. A recent retail sales decline eventually will cause a drop in imported merchandise — a main intermodal traffic driver.

“If the current loading trends continue, deliveries for intermodal cars should fall in 2006 well below the 14,000 cars that have been forecasted for 2005,” said Rail Theory Forecasts President and Progressive Railroading columnist Toby Kolstad.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/16/2005