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IANA: Q3 intermodal volume dropped despite higher container counts

Some Class Is moved more containers in the third quarter. UP's Q3 intermodal volume inched up to 811,000 units versus 809,000 units in the year-ago period.
Photo – Union Pacific Railroad


In third-quarter 2022, total intermodal volume slipped 1% year over year to 4,535,835 units, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s (IANA) latest data.

Total loads dropped by about 48,000 moves, which represents less than one day’s volume, IANA officials said in a quarterly intermodal activity report. It was the fifth-straight quarter with a volume decline, but it was the smallest decrease among the five quarters.

Domestic container volume in Q3 ratcheted up 1.5% to 2,012,662 units and the international container count inched up 0.1% to 2,314,112 units. But the tally of all domestic equipment was 2,221,723 units, down 2.2% year over year. In addition, trailer volume tumbled 27.7% to 209,061 units.

“The positive numbers for domestic and international containers are an indication of increasing network fluidity and a reduction in congestion,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a press release. “Additional gains are anticipated in the fourth quarter that could negate some of the losses experienced during the first half of the year.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors — which collectively handled more than 60% of total volume — showed mixed results in Q3. Volume in the Trans-Canada and Midwest-Southwest corridors rose 6.1% and 1.7%, respectively. But the other four corridors posted declines: the Midwest-Northwest at 14.7%; South Central-Southwest and Southeast-Southwest at 13.9%; Intra-Southeast at 8.5%; and Northeast-Midwest at 0.5%.

IANA projects fourth-quarter volume will climb 5.2% year over year, especially since Q4 2021 volume was down 9.8%.

"If the fourth quarter comes in as expected, total 2022 volume would be down 1.8% from 2021," IANA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/1/2022