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11/5/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

North American intermodal volume reaches second-highest quarterly level, IANA says



Declining imports from Asia and sluggish domestic traffic demand took a toll on third-quarter intermodal volume, which decreased 2.2 percent compared with third-quarter 2006's total. But the decline notwithstanding, intermodal volume "held its own" in the quarter, according to the Intermodal Association of North America's (IANA) quarterly Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report.

Total North American volume reached the second-highest level ever at 3,618,617 units, trailing only third-quarter 2006's 3,699,544 units. Domestic container volume jumped 10 percent to 919,085 units and all domestic equipment inched up 0.1 percent to 1.4 million units compared with third-quarter 2006 totals. The domestic gains helped offset a 13.5 percent decrease in trailers to 526,887 units and 3.7 percent drop in international container volume to 2.2 million units.

"The domestic container gains are especially noteworthy because they were achieved at a time when long-haul truck capacity was abundant, retail sales, as well as other economic indicators, were weak and key industries, such as construction, were slumping," said Thomas Malloy, IANA vice president of member services and business development, in a prepared statement.

Overall, international intermodal traffic fell 3.7 percent and domestic volume rose 0.1 percent in the quarter, reflecting a "change from recent years, when international traffic consistently rose at a rate of 6 percent or more, while domestic business increased at a slower pace," IANA said.

Through 2007's first nine months, total intermodal volume decreased 0.9 percent to 10.6 million units compared with volume handled during the same 2006 period.


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