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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

North American intermodal volume surged in Q1, IANA says


Increased consumer demand and inventory stocking prompted a significant rise in intermodal volume during the first quarter, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s latest “Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics” report. Q1 volume increased 8.4 percent to 3 million units compared with first-quarter 2009’s total. All regions registered gains exceeding 6 percent except the Southwest Region, which posted a 2.8 percent increase, the report states.

Domestic container volume netted the biggest year-over-year gain, rising 15.7 percent to 1 million units. All U.S. regions recorded volume increases exceeding 10 percent while Canadian volume dropped 1 percent, the report states.

“Compared to 0.1 percent growth during first-quarter 2009, this new growth indicates the uptick is not just a rebound from last year’s depressed volume levels,” IANA officials said in the report. “Domestic container increases expanded monthly during the quarter, ranging from 10 percent in January to more than 20 percent during March.”

However, trailer volume continued to plunge, decreasing 5.9 percent in the quarter to 383,364 units.

Meanwhile, strong port volumes supported a 7.8 percent gain in international containers to 1.6 million units, the report states.

“While international containers grew by only 1 percent in January and 3 percent in February, they strongly advanced 18 percent in March,” IANA officials said. “Gains in international container shipments were broad-based across all regions except the Southwest, which dropped 2.8 percent.”
With a recovering economy, strengthening service levels, growing domestic container fleets and rising fuel prices, intermodal appears "poised for a strong rebound in 2010,” the report concluded.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/14/2010