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Intermodal growth extends across all markets: intermodal association

CALVERTON, Md.–According to the Q3 2013 Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report released by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) this week, total intermodal traffic grew in the third quarter of 2013 by 4.7 percent, year-over-year, attributable to gains across the board.

Domestic container volume continued to lead intermodal growth, posting a year-over-year increase of 9.4 percent, and combined with a 1.2 percent boost in intermodal trailer volume for the same period, all domestic equipment experienced 7.6 percent year-over-year gains during the third quarter of 2013, said the report.

Also contributing to the increase in total intermodal traffic was a slight uptick in international volume which posted a 2013 Q3 gain of 2 percent over 2012. If jobs, consumer spending and/or the broader economy accelerate, a slow but steady growth trend is likely for the international market.

“For the tenth quarter in a row, domestic container volume flexed its muscles and has outpaced international shipments driving the gains in total intermodal traffic,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “It is also worth noting that the trailer segment grew in all three months of Q3, reversing three years of decline and contributed to domestic growth.”

Q3 marks the first time seasonally adjusted domestic shipments exceeded international shipments. This milestone was achieved after a decade of domestic service improvement and five years of accelerated volume gains. A contributing factor was weak international container trade volumes during the recession followed by an inconsistent rebound.  

Despite a slight drop in regional traffic during Q3 2013, the strong growth Eastern Canada experienced in Q2 still allows for year-to-date growth. This decline can largely be attributed to lower import volumes. The region’s outbound trailer volume increased an impressive 10 percent over Q3 2012.
The Southeast region led intermodal in the third quarter of 2013, boasting an 11.3 percent gain over the same period last year according to IANA’s Market Trends data. Following immediately behind was the Northeast region, which posted an 8.3 percent gain compared to Q3 2012. The Midwest maintained its year-over-year Q3 hold on the largest percentage share of regional traffic, with 28 percent, said IANA.

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