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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Small domestic container gain highlights otherwise dismal intermodal volume in Q1, IANA says


Domestic container volume provided a “glimmer of hope” in the first quarter, which was weighed down by plunging international volume, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s (IANA) latest “Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics” report.

During the period, domestic containers totaled 893,506 units, up 0.1 percent compared with first-quarter 2008 volume. Domestic trailer traffic plunged 20.6 percent to 407,206 units while total domestic equipment volume fell 7.4 percent to 1.3 million units.

“Given the challenging economic climate, even the small growth of domestic containers during the quarter is considered impressive,” IANA officials said in the report. “Although overall domestic container volume barely stayed in positive territory, 53-foot containers continued to show strong gains, posting a 4.6 percent increase during the quarter; a shift to transloading of international business may be responsible for some of that strength.”

International container volume tumbled 22.7 percent to 1.5 million units — the primary reason total volume plummeted 16.3 percent year over year to 2.8 million units.

“International volume did not come close to positive territory due to some of the worst economic conditions seen in recent memory,” the report states. “Burdened by sinking consumer spending and overstocked inventories, international volume plunged … in every IANA region.

The western Canada region posted the smallest international decline at 11.2 percent while the Northwest region recorded the largest at 32.9 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/13/2009