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Lower fuel prices, international trade impact intermodal's market share in fourth quarter


Intermodal transportation lost market share against trucks in fourth-quarter 2008, according to the February issue of transportation forecasting firm FTR Associates' Monthly Update.

Intermodal's share of U.S. long-haul international and domestic containerized freight movements totaled to 12.1 percent, down 0.2 percent compared with third-quarter 2008. And after increasing for the past year, domestic intermodal share dropped 0.1 percent to 5.6 percent.

"Intermodal is facing some terrific headwinds at the moment," said FTR Senior Consultant Lawrence Gross in a prepared statement. "The combined effects of plunging fuel prices and excess capacity in the motor carrier industry proved too great for domestic intermodal to overcome in the fourth quarter. Compounding the problem is the profound weakness in international trade, a market dominated by long-haul intermodal."

But as trucking firms shrink their fleets in response to the recession, there will be a significant shortage of truck capacity when the economy rebounds, and intermodal will be "well-positioned to benefit," said Gross.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/17/2009