Posts Tagged ‘Intermodal Association of North America’

Intermodal Traffic Fell 2.9% in 3rd Quarter

November 2, 2021

The Intermodal Association of North America said that during the third quarter of 2021 intermodal volume fell 2.9 percent compared with the same period in 2020.

IANA said international containers posted a 0.9 percent gain while domestic shipments lost 5.7 percent and trailers were down 11.2 percent.

In a news release IANA officials attributed the overall volume loss to supply chain disruptions, but also noted that the decline “was small relative to the size of this year’s earlier gains and in comparison to the previous 15 months of continuous gains.”

Intermodal Traffic Up 20.4% in 2nd Quarter

July 31, 2021

The Intermodal Association of North American said this week that during the second quarter of 2021 intermodal volumes rose 20.4 percent year the same period in 2020.

International containers gained 24.8 percent from 2020; domestic shipments,15.7 percent; and trailers,18.5 percent.

“Intermodal volumes have now grown for the fourth consecutive quarter. What is noteworthy is the breadth of the gains,” said IANA President Joni Casey in a statement. “With one or two exceptions, the three market segments showed positive performance in all of IANA’s 10 regions.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled more than 60 percent of total volume, were all up double digits in the second quarter.

Trans-Canada led with 29.6 percent, followed by the Southeast-Southwest at 28.9 percent and the Midwest-Northwest at 26.6 percent.

The Intra-Southeast likewise posted a 25.9 percent increase; the South Central-Southwest, 24.5 percent; and the Midwest-Southwest, 21.8 percent. The Northeast-Midwest came in at 20.9 percent.

Intermodal Volume Up 10.5% in 1st Quarter

May 3, 2021

North American intermodal volume rose 10.5 percent year to 4,616,262 units in the first quarter of 201, the Intermodal Association of North America said.

The comparisons in its IANA’s report are to the same period in 2020.

International container volume rose 14.8 percent to 2,362,726 units from 2,057,685 in 2020.

Domestic shipments rose 4.4 percent to 1,944,262 units from 2,862,499; and trailers increased 20 percent to 309,274 units from 257,805.

“Intermodal volumes were up for the third consecutive quarter through Q1. This growth is projected to continue through the remainder of the year,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a statement.

“Even considering weak comparisons that supported the other segments, domestic intermodal posted solid 4.4 percent gains.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled more than 60 percent of total volume, were all up in the first quarter.

Trans-Canada was up 26.4 percent; Midwest-Southwest was up 15.7 percent; and the South Central-Southwest was up 15.6 percent.

The Midwest-Northwest was up 8.3 percent; and the Northeast-Midwest rose 5 percent.

TTX Sees Intermodal Volume Growth Continuing

February 26, 2021

Railcar pooling company TTX expects intermodal volume this year to continue its growth trend.

Speaking during a webcast sponsored by the Intermodal Association of North America, TTX analysts said intermodal growth will be driven by low retail inventories and continued consumer demand for goods rather than services due to the pandemic.

Another factor, the TTX analysts said is the inability of trucking companies to find enough drivers to meet transportation demand.

The TTX panelists projected that international intermodal volume will grow by 7.3 percent while domestic traffic will post gains of 4.7 percent.

Intermodal volume in 2020 was story of sharp contrasts with traffic plunging early in the year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold before bouncing back in the fall.

Among the assumptions that TTX is making for its 2021 projections are that government pandemic assistance will continue and that the economy will continue to recover from its pandemic-induced doldrums.

It also assumes that growth will continue in parcel shipments due to strong e-commerce which got a boost during the pandemic when retailers were forced to reduce operations and/or many customers became unwilling to shop in person.

John Woodcock, director of market development at TTX, said 2021 will not follow the traditional intermodal pattern of peaking between August and November. Instead, he said intermodal will see a more drawn out peak.

Another change this year will be shifting of more international business from West Coast ports to ports in the East and along the Gulf Coast.

Intermodal Volume Has Reached Capacity

February 7, 2021

Intermodal traffic has reached a capacity ceiling due to bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Intermodal analysts Larry Gross said the demand for intermodal transportation has exceeded the ability of the system to meet it.

Gross, who spoke during a webcast of the Intermodal Association of North America, said domestic capacity is limited and international capacity might be limited as well.

“Now, I can’t necessarily say which link in the chain has been the one that has been the biggest limitation,” he said. “We’ve got so many out there that are under strain, between ports and chassis availability and box availability, and well cars, locomotives, and train crews.” 

Intermodal volume has been a bright spot for railroads over the past few months. Some weekly and monthly traffic volume reports issued by the Association of American Railroads have reported double digit and high single digit growth.

Gross, though, expects intermodal volume to return to more normal levels in the second half of this year.

One widely shared explanation for intermodal growth has been retailers working to replenish inventories that fell during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic when the economy slipped into a recession.

Gross said the intermodal network can’t handle more volume than it is handling now, particularly during a pandemic.

He explained that dock workers being sick with COVID-19 or having to quarantine has slowed the unloading of container ships at some ports, particularly those in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

Gross noted that more than 30 ships are anchored offshore awaiting dock space and nearly three quarters of that cargo will be moved via intermodal.

“What we’ve seen is the downside of everybody trying to squeeze through the same keyhole,” Gross said.

Railroads have at times limited inbound volume as a result of higher volumes and slower equipment turn times at warehouses and distribution centers. Drayage capacity also remains tight.

Gross said domestic container volume could be expanded through increased productivity or larger fleet sizes.

He said there is a performance gap between private containers and railroad-owned boxes with the former handling more loads per box per month.

Intermodal Up 9.6% in 4th Quarter

February 3, 2021

Intermodal volume rose 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Intermodal Association of North America said this week.

In its intermodal quarterly report IANA said intermodal volume for the quarter was 4,874,842 units. The percentage comparison was to the same period in 2019.

International intermodal volume rose 9.4 percent to 2,402,320 units, while domestic container volume climbed 8.7 percent to 2,128,885 units.

Trailer volume increased 17.5 percent to 343,637 units.

The seven highest-density trade corridors handled more than 60 percent of total volume and collectively increased by 10.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

They included Trans-Canada, 19.7 percent; South Central-Southwest, 13.4 percent; and Midwest-Southwest, 13 percent.

Intra-Southeast had a 9.6 percent increase, and Northeast-Midwest, a 9.5 percent gain.

The Midwest-Northwest was up 7.5 percent, and the Southeast-Southwest grew 2.4 percent.

Full-year 2020 total intermodal volume slipped 2 percent to 17,789,192 units compared with 2019.

“Against the backdrop of COVID, all market sectors posted gains, setting the pace into at least [the first quarter of] 2021,” said IANA President Joni Casey in a statement.

Intermodal Traffic up in 1.2% in 3rd Quarter

November 4, 2020

Intermodal traffic rose 1.2 percent in the third quarter, the Intermodal Association of North America reported.

Volume during the period was 4,719,462 units. The increase is in comparison to the same quarter in 2019.

On a year-over-year basis, international intermodal volume fell 6.5 percent to 2,290,299 containers, while domestic volume rose 9.8 percent to 2,103,361 containers.

Trailers were up 9.8 percent to 325,802 units during the quarter.

The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled more than 60 percent of total volume, were collectively up 1.9 percent.

Posting gains were the Midwest-Southwest and the Northeast-Midwest, both at 6.6 percent and the South Central-Southwest, at 4.9 percent. 

Losses were seen by Trans-Canada, 0.7 percent, Intra-Southeast,1.5 percent, Southeast-Southwest, 5.4 percent and Midwest-Northwest, 13.6 percent.

“Inventory replenishment and increasing e-commerce activity, along with some capacity constraints on the trucking side, have helped intermodal to turn the corner this quarter,” said IANA President and Chief Executive Officer Joni Casey said in a statement.

“This trend is expected to continue, but dependent on the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.”

Panelist Discuss How Technological Changes are Affecting Competition Between Rails and Trucks

August 20, 2020

Railroads hold advantages over trucks in moving freight over longer distances, but those advantages might be wiped out or greatly diminished by the development of battery-powered rigs and autonomous truck operation.

Still, members of a panel that met during a recent Intermodal Association of North America webcast said Class 1 railroads have the money and time to do something about that because widespread use of battery-powered trucks and autonomous operation is still at least five years away.

Railroad industry observer Anthony Hatch said railroads have five advantages over trucks: Railroads are less labor intensive, more fuel efficient, have a lower carbon footprint, own their own infrastructure, and are financially strong.

In fact, Hatch said, the railroad industry is more profitable than ever.

But if railroads sit on those resources rather than invest them in becoming more efficient operators, trucks may erase some of those advantages.

Electric and autonomous trucks hold the promise of being less costly to operate, which would overcome the labor and fuel costs advantages that railroads have now.

“If we were to see a magical turnover to an all-electric road fleet, that would be good for the air that we breathe and not very good for railroad shareholders,” Hatch says.

He said some “very smart people” in the trucking industry are working diligently to figure out how to improve the range and lower the cost of battery-powered trucks as well as implement autonomous operation.

Battery-powered trucks are currently on the road, but their high cost means that trucks powered by diesel fuel are still cheaper.

Another drawback of existing battery-powered trucks is a range limited to 150 miles.

Currently, the economics of battery-powered trucks only work in California and because of a state subsidy implemented to reduce air pollution.

Most battery-powered trucks are being used for drayage and local service.

Brian Cota of Daimler Trucks America said many of the costs of owning and operating electric trucks, including battery life and charging costs, remain unknown.

He said trucking companies will need five years of experience with electric rigs before being able to get a handle on what the market will look like.

Panelists said battery-powered trucks need a range of at least 350 miles to become practical for regional moves.

The consensus in the railroad industry is that 500 miles is the floor at which railroad double-stack service can compete with trucks.

As for autonomous trucks, technology firm TuSimple is testing autonomous truck moves on Interstate 10 in the Southwest with a driver in the cab to monitor operations.

TuSimple is working with Navistar to produce self-driving semis by 2024.

TuSimple’s Robert Brown expects autonomous trucks to be used primarily for highway moves. Human drivers will be used for pickup and delivery at shippers’ docks.

Brown said the initial market is expected to be team driving routes that aren’t competitive with intermodal.

Seth Clevenger, managing editor of features at trade publication Transport Topics, said the move toward autonomous trucks is expected to be an evolution, not a revolution.

As for what railroads can do to counter advances in the trucking industry, Hatch said they could borrow some of the technology that truckers are developing.

That would include using battery-powered drayage trucks in order to reduce the costs of picking up and dropping off containers at rail terminals.

BNSF is operating a pilot program using autonomous yard trucks and autonomous and remote-control cranes in intermodal terminals.

It is also working with Wabtec to test a battery-powered road locomotive in California.

Intermodal Dipped 11.9% in 2nd Quarter

July 31, 2020

Intermodal traffic was down 11.9 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period of 2019 the Intermodal Association of North American reported this week.

The trade group attributed the decline largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was a 15.4 percent drop in international shipments while domestic containers fell by 7 percent and trailers by 14 percent.

“Second-quarter results showed the full impact of the economic downturn attributed to COVID-19,” said IANA President Joni Casey in a statement.

“Slowing imports and declining diesel prices affected both international and domestic volumes. We anticipate that the Q2 drop off should be a floor going forward.”

Pace of Imports is Picking Up

June 10, 2020

The National Retail Federation said this week that the effects of the economic recession prompted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of easing its negative effect on U.S. retail container ports.

The trade organization said its projected imports still remaining below last year’s levels but not as much as previously forecast.

“The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than we expected a month ago,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a statement. “It may be too soon to say, but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked.”

U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million 20 foot-equivalent units (TEUs) in April, down 7.8 percent from a year earlier, but up 17 percent from a four-year low logged in March and significantly better than the 1.51 TEUs previously expected.

May is estimated to be 1.58 million TEUs, down 14.6 year over year, but up from the 1.47 million forecast a month ago.

June is forecast at 1.56 million TEUs, down 12.9 percent from last year, but up from the previous forecast of 1.46 million TEUs, NRF officials said.

In a unrelated development, the Intermodal Association of North American has canceled its 2020 Intermodal EXPO due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was scheduled to take place Sept. 13-15 in Long Beach, California.

The next Intermodal EXPO has been set for Sept. 12-14, 2021, in Long Beach.

Last month, IANA reported first-quarter 2020 intermodal volumes fell 6.7 percent compared with first quarter 2019 volumes.