Posts Tagged ‘Intermodal Association of North America’

Intermodal Volume Down 1%in 3rd Quarter

November 1, 2022

The Intermodal Association of North America said this week that during the third quarter intermodal volume fell 1.0 percent compared with the same period of 2021.

IANA said intermodal trailer traffic for the third quarter was down 27.7 percent, but domestic containers and international containers were up 1.5 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

The seven highest-density trade corridors handled more than 60 percent of intermodal volume.

The Trans-Canada corridor and Midwest-Southwest corridor saw volume increase by 6.1 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

But Midwest-Northwest volume fell 14.7 percent decline. The South Central-Southwest and the Southeast-Southwest volume wad down 3.9 percent, Intra-Southeast fell by 8.5 percent, and the Northeast-Midwest dipped by 0.5 percent.

“The positive numbers for domestic and international containers are an indication of increasing network fluidity and reduction in congestion,” IANA President and CEO Joni Casey said. In a statement Casey said additional gains in the fourth quarter are expected to offset some of the losses experienced during the first half of 2022.

Intermodal Volume Down in 2nd Quarter

August 6, 2022

Intermodal volume during the second quarter of 2022 declined by 4.3 percent the Intermodal Association of North America reported this week.

IANA said the second quarter volume was 4,630,400 units. The percentage comparison is with a year ago in the second quarter of 2021.

Domestic container volume was up 4 percent to 2,098,606 units but international container traffic dipped 8.4 percent to 2,301,617 units. The number of trailers fell 25.2 percent to 230,177 units.

In a statement, IANA CEO Joni Casey sought to put a positive spin on the numbers, saying the losses were an improvement “relative to the first quarter.” She said second quarter volumes exceeded those of the first quarter by 7.4 percent.

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors all posted losses in the second quarter.

This included the Midwest-Northwest corridor at 20.1 percent, the South Central-Southwest corridor at 14.5 percent, the Intra-Southeast at 7.8 percent, the Southeast-Southwest at 5.5 percent and the Midwest-Southwest at 5.3 percent, respectively.

The Northeast-Midwest corridor posted a 3.1 percent decrease and the Trans-Canada corridor saw volumes fall by 2.2 percent.

Intermodal Business There for the Taking if Railroads Can Resolve Staffing, Service Issues

July 15, 2022

Class 1 railroad executives and industry observers say there is plenty of intermodal business out there for the taking.

The Intermodal Association of North America projects that domestic container volume will increase this year by 6.4 percent when compared to 2021 traffic.

But an analysis published on the website of Progressive Railroading found that landing that business will require the carriers to hire and train new operating personnel, solve equipment availability issues, and offer better and more consistent service.

The trade magazine’s analysis found that railroads are making some progress in addressing these issues, have a ways to go and it remains to be seen if the carriers can capture the volume growth that IANA predicts is out there.

Shippers also face issues stemming from higher fuel prices and railroads taking steps to limit congestion on their busiest routes.

These development could play out in adverse ways for shippers as they are gearing up for their peak season later this year. They also could play out during a time when consumer demand for retail goods is strong.

Working in favor of railroads is the fact that for now they are enjoying an economic advantage over trucks due to the latter having to grapple with driver shortages, tight capacity and higher fuel prices.

In some instances, railroads have developed alliances with trucking companies, ocean ports and shippers to better understand supply chain changes.

As has been the case for several months, railroads must deal with equipment imbalances that stem from containers not being unloaded promptly and returned for terminals.

This is being caused by, among other things, understaffed warehouses and distribution centers.

In particular this has led to a chassis shortage that industry observers expect to last into 2023.

A chassis is used to transport containers among ports, rail yards, container depots and shipper facilities. 

The challenge for the Class 1 railroads is taking steps to overcome these issues so that they can tap into the business that is available if they can handle it.

“It’s an exciting time in intermodal,” said CSX Vice President of Intermodal and Automotive Maryclare Kenney. “There are opportunities out there. Demand is strong for the intermodal product.” 

Figures provided by IANA show Class 1 intermodal volume in the first quarter of this year fell 6.6 percent.

The trade association expects intermodal volume to be up 1 percent for all of 2022 buoyed by additional container capacity service routes and increasing staff in the intermodal sector.

Those interviewed by Progressive Railroading all agree that a key to railroads realizing intermodal traffic gains is hiring additional operating personnel.

CSX, for example, has 6,700 train and engine workers but needs 300 more. In a normal year its T&E worker attrition rate is 7 percent. But of late it has risen to 10 percent.

Another key is providing more consistent service, a factor over which railroads have more control.

NS recently began implementing a new operating plan that focused on improving its intermodal operations.

The carrier is revamping intermodal operations to make them more consistent by balancing the flow of shipments through terminals, intermediate yards and the overall network.

It is seeking to eliminate choke points, reduce how much freight is handled en route and changing train schedules to improve and speed up network velocity.

CSX officials say they have reduced dwell time in recent months so that on-time intermodal performance has reached the low 90 percent range as opposed to 87 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The carrier is seeking to get that on-time percentage into the high 90s range.

The article can be read at https://www.progressiverailroading.com/intermodal/article/Class-I-railroads-expect-intermodal-boost-after-several-disruptive-supply-chain-kinks-smooth-out–67015

Intermodal Volume Fell in 1st Quarter

May 1, 2022

The Intermodal Association of North America reported last week that intermodal volume in the first quarter of 2022 fell 6.6 percent to 4,312,905 units compared with 4,616,262 units in the same period of 2021.

Domestic container shipments rose 5.2 percent to 2,046,210 units, but international container volume dropped 15.5 percent to 1,997,046 units and trailer counts fell 12.8 percent to 269,649.

It was the third-smallest quarterly volume in the past four years and followed a 9.8 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2021 and a 2.9 percent drop in the third quarter of 2021, IANA officials said in the report.

IANA said COVID-19 Omicron surge was evident as January intermodal loadings, which fell 13.3 percent. Loadings in the seven highest-density trade corridors all fell during the first quarter.

“Supply-chain issues continued to impact volumes in the first quarter, especially on the international side,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey. “On the other hand, domestic containers stood out for a respectable year-over-year gain. Higher levels of transloading are primarily responsible for this trend.”

North American intermodal volume for 2022 is expected to rise 0.9 percent despite losses during the first half of the year.

Volume should rise in the the second half of 2022 although international container volume is expected to decline 2.8 percent this year with a greater share of imports landing on the East and Gulf Coasts in addition to a larger number of transloads moving in domestic containers off the West Coast.

Increasing transloads and tight trucking conditions should boost domestic container volume by 6.4 percent in 2022, IANA officials said.

Intermodal Up in 2021, Down in 4th Quarter

February 2, 2022

Intermodal volume during 2021 had a pattern that became all too familiar to those who follow the weekly traffic reports issued by the Association of American Railroads.

For the year the Intermodal Association of North America said volume was up by 3.6 percent to 18.4 million units when compared with 2020.

But in the fourth quarter of 2021, volume dropped 9.8 percent when compared with the same period of 2020.

All market segments saw declines during the fourth quarter. International containers fell 16.2 percent to 2,013,879 units; trailers fell 10.9 percent to 306,344 units; and domestic containers fell 2.4 percent to 2,076,790 units.

IANA CEO Joni Casey said intermodal traffic  grew during 2021 although at a much slower rate than it did in 2020.

“Performance continues to be affected by the virus, as well as network congestion and the intermittent scarcity of equipment and labor.” Casey said in a news release.

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.