Intermodal Freight Traffic Grew in 1st Quarter

The Intermodal Association of North America said intermodal freight volumes grew in the first quarter of 2017 following a year of declines in 2016.

First quarter international containers rose 2.9 percent to 2.1 million units, and domestic containers climbed 1.3 percent to nearly 1.8 million units compared with first-quarter 2016. Intermodal trailers posted a slight gain of 0.3 percent to 310,393 units in the quarter.

Overall, intermodal volume totaled 4.2 million units, up 2 percent year over year.

“All intermodal market segments showed improvement in the first quarter,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a statement. “What’s notable about this is that it comes on the heels of 2 percent growth in the same quarter of last year, suggesting real gains, not just a weak comparison.”

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors posted a collective 2.1 percent increase in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Those corridors account for 63.4 percent of total intermodal volume.

Traffic gains ranged from a 7.4 percent increase between Eastern and Western Canada, to a 1.3 percent loss in the South Central-Southwest corridor. The corridor with the highest volumes, the Midwest-Southwest, grew 1.7 percent.

Intermodal marketing companies registered a 7.5 percent gain in total loads for the quarter, which IANA said reflected the continued strength of highway shipments.

“These increased 11.6 percent over the same quarter the previous year,” IANA said. “Intermodal loads also gained 3.6 percent after a double-digit drop for the full 2016 year.”

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