Domestic containers up 10.5% as record fuel prices shift freight to rail
Domestic intermodal had its best performance this quarter since the second quarter of 2004 according to a report released today by the Intermodal Association of North America. A strong 10.5% gain in domestic containers ’ their strongest quarter of growth since 1999 ’ coupled with moderate domestic trailer volumes pushed overall domestic volume up a respectable 6.7%. This solid performance helped boost overall year-to-date domestic growth up by 4.7%, according to Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics, a comprehensive intermodal volume data report published by IANA.
Domestic container growth was driven by a 16.1% surge in 53-foot containers, while all other container sizes posted declines during the quarter. Domestic container gains were particularly strong in the Midwest-Northeast corridor, where eastbound shipments increased 15%, while westbound shipments increased 6%. And a first in more than three years, trailers had their second consecutive quarter of volume gains, which were primarily driven by a 10.4% increase in 53-foot units.
Q3 2007/2008 Intermodal Volume Comparisons
|Equipment Type||Q3 2007||Q3 2008||Change|
|Domestic Containers||919,085||1,015,326||+10.5 %|
|All Domestic Equipment||1,445,973||1,543,166||+6.7 %|
|ISO Containers||2,172,645||2,040,991||-6.1 %|
Continued weakness in consumer spending depressed container imports and overall international results. While international volume declined 6.1% in Q3 08 compared to Q3 07, the 2008 year to date figure was down 5.7%. In spite of a weak economy, total intermodal volume has held up relatively well. To date, shipments are only 1.6% below last year’s numbers. If economic concerns worsen, it appears unlikely that we will see a noticeable rebound in international volume during the next few quarters, but domestic should continue its solid performance as road-to-rail conversion opportunities are expected to remain an attractive transportation option for many shippers.