IANA: Intermodal strength continues unabated

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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North American intermodal rail volume continues to notch gains across the board, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) reported in its Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report.

IANA’s report, issued Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, notes “intermodal posted gains across all segments.” IANA noted, “International containers increased 9.6%, trailers improved by 4.3%, and domestic containers grew 7.6% quarter over quarter, all indications that the intermodal industry is recovering from a harsh winter and a contracted economy.

“Due in large part to [the second quarter’s] strength, the first half of 2014 averaged 5.5% in total intermodal volume gains, just below the 5.8% growth recorded in the second half of 2013 and in-line with recent trends,” IANA said.

“The second quarter results were indicative of a rebounding economy and higher than predicted import shipments,” said IANA CEO and Presdient Joni Casey. “It is also probable the harsh winter that resulted in constricted [first-quarter] capacity contributed to the second quarter’s strong growth, by comparison.”

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors, accounting for 66.2% of total intermodal volume, rose 7.4% this quarter, falling below the 8.2% industry average. Five of the seven bi-directional lanes recorded growth near or above industry averages. “The Trans-Canada corridor, positively impacted by international ntermodal shipments from Eastern Canada to Western Canada, led the way in corridor growth with a 10.5% quarter-over-quarter increase,” IANA said.

Eight of the nine IANA regions experienced growth in the second quarter, with six areas reporting increases larger than 10%. Of these six, all were heavily impacted by strong showings in international intermodal shipments. The Midwest and Southwest, the two largest IANA regions accounting for almost 50% of total loadings, climbed 6.3% and 7.8%, respectively.

Intermodal Marketing Companies (IMCs) posted second-quarter growth rates that IANA said “were more modest than the overall intermodal volume numbers, growing 2.4% from last year. Like much of the broader market, IMCs in part

benefited from the robust showing from imports based on transloading opportunities.

Average revenue for both intermodal and highway IMC market segments continued to grow, “with increases of 6.0% and 16.3%, respectively,” IANA said.