IANA reports a 4.5 percent gain in total Q1 intermodal volumes

In the first quarter edition of its Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics Report, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) said this week that total first quarter intermodal container and trailer movements—at 3,682,049 trailers and containers—were up 4.5 percent annually.

By ·

In the first quarter edition of its Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics Report, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) said this week that total first quarter intermodal container and trailer movements—at 3,682,049 trailers and containers—were up 4.5 percent annually.

As has been the case for six straight quarters, domestic containers—at 1,427,802— outpaced all intermodal categories for a 10.2 percent annual gain. This was slightly below the fourth quarter’s 2012 10.5 percent annual increase.

IANA noted in the report that that last time domestic volumes declined on a quarter-to-quarter basis was in the second quarter of 2009, adding that on a seasonally-adjusted basis domestic intermodal was up 3.0 percent compared to the fourth quarter, marking its strongest growth rate since the second quarter of 2010.

While it has been largely noted that domestic intermodal gains have occurred due to lower fuel costs, improving service, and major investments into rail networks, among others, it clear that intermodal is taking share from over the road trucking and will continue to be an area of secular growth for railroads.

But while the growth rates are impressive, industry experts maintain that these strong domestic container intermodal volumes are due in large part to freight coming out of intermodal trailers into trailers or from one box to another, coupled with the fact that the gross number of intermodal loadings—both domestic and container—were higher in 2006 than in 2012 as was gross GDP and industrial production. What’s more, during that same period the number of truckloads moved and truck tonnage volume is larger than intermodal.

IANA President and CEO Joni Casey told LM that the growth in domestic containers is a combination of transloading—both from small 40-foot international containers into larger 53-foot domestic boxes, and “also a result of additional market share due to actual modal shifts.”

First quarter international containers—at 1,869,988—were up 3.0 percent annually, and trailers decreased 6.3 percent—to 384,259. Even though trailers were down, IANA pointed out that the rate of decline was not as high as the 10 percent or higher levels seen in the previous two quarters.

The IANA report explained that the gains on the international side were surprising, considering the current economic climate in terms of the across the board U.S. tax increase and the federal budget sequester serving as headwinds. But even with those obstacles, IANA observed that West Coast port import numbers were strong in the first quarter, adding that rail intermodal has a higher share on the West Coast.
“Our original estimates of 2 percent growth in international volumes were exceeded based on stronger than expected consumer spending, resolution of some lingering labor uncertainty and higher than anticipated inventory restocking,” Casey said.

IMC (Intermodal Marketing Company) intermodal and highway revenue for the first quarter—at $813,483,382 and $187,533,645—were up 3.5 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. Total revenue—at $1,001,017,027—was up 2.0 percent. Average revenue per intermodal load—at $2,637—was up 1.3 percent and average revenue per highway load—at $2,613—was up 11.6 percent, and average revenue per highway load—at $1,442—was down 0.2 percent.

Total first quarter IMC loads—at 438,438—were down 4.3 percent, with intermodal loads down 6.4 percent at 308,479 and highway loads up 1.1 percent at 129,959.

The report explained that growth levels for IMCs were modest compared to the first quarter of 2012, adding that for the first time since the third quarter of 2011 intermodal volume growth lagged overall domestic intermodal growth, adding less than half the gain posted for the total sector.

“First quarter IMC intermodal volume numbers are basically a victim of timing,” explained Casey. “There were less days in quarterly cycle this year, coupled with the timing of Asian New Year impacting West Coast transloads. There was also a shift between IMC intermodal loads and IMC highway/broker loads, and while volumes may be off, revenues in each category exceeded last year’s numbers for the same quarter.  We expect IMC business to follow in line with overall domestic intermodal volumes.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

IANA · Intermodal · All Topics
Hub Group Resources
Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
Click here to download
Latest Whitepaper
Improving E-Commerce Fulfillment Through Business Integration
As e-commerce continues to outpace conventional retail, companies of all sizes are finding ways to disrupt traditional business models and seize market share.
Download Today!
From the February 2017 Issue
As the new administration sends waves of uncertainly through the global trade community, this could be the best time ever for shippers to build an investment case for GTM. Here are five trends you need to watch if you’re about to put these savvy systems to work
Carrier Consolidation Keeps Shippers Guessing
Getting Value from the Cloud
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Advance your career with the fastest growing logistics certification – APICS CLTD
During this webcast presenters will give an overview of APICS and the new Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designation. Learn how the CLTD program can help you stay on top of current trends and advance your career.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...

Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...
Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...