IANA reports strong third quarter 2010 intermodal volumes

Domestic volumes hit an all-time high despite container shortage

By Jeff Berman · November 5, 2010

While various freight trends have seen numerous stops and starts in 2010, intermodal transportation is not one of them, according to the results of the third quarter Market Trends report from the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).

In the third quarter, IANA stated that third quarter intermodal loadings—at 2,995,043—were up 20.3 percent year-over-year. This was ahead of the second quarter’s 2,829,971 and behind the first quarter’s 3,019,310.

Along with a 20.3 percent annual gain in total intermodal loadings, IANA said that the four major intermodal categories it tracks were also showed gains. Domestic containers—at 1,162,460—were up 13 percent. International containers—at 2,011,775—were up 28.1 percent (marking the second time since the second half of 2006 that international topped domestic containers. All domestic equipment—at 1,591, 227—was up 11.7 percent, and trailers—at 428,767—were up 8.5 percent (trailers have been down 19 of the last 23 quarters).

“Intermodal activity, particularly from the international-driven side, is somewhat of a leading indicator as to what the expectations are for the economy,” said Tom Malloy, IANA Vice President of Member Services, in an interview. “A driver for intermodal’s continued momentum is the optimism—and confidence—by supply chain managers in bringing materials in from overseas.”

The Market Trends report supports this view, noting that the resurgence of international intermodal is primarily due to stronger container import volumes. But even with international container volumes up nearly 30 percent in the third quarter, IANA said they are still well below peak levels from the third quarter of 2006 as seasonally-adjusted third quarter international volumes are 11.7 percent below peak levels.

Domestic volumes for the third quarter, according to IANA, hit an all-time in the third quarter, with the report stating that domestic container shipments continuing to outpace the overall economic recovery in conjunction with intermodal shipments gaining share over other modes of freight transportation.

“Domestic activity is off the charts right now, especially for domestic containers of North American origin and termination, and are up over previous high points from 2008 and 2006,” said Malloy. “This is a good story. Had there been more containers [available] there likely would have been increased domestic container activity. This means equipment managers are doing a much better job of managing load-to-load churn, which is key for the companies that own them, the manager that runs them in order to maximize revenue opportunities for these pieces of equipment on an annual basis.”

IMC Performance: Intermodal Marketing Companies largely saw percentage gains on an annual basis in the third quarter, with intermodal loads—at 286,035—up 12.3 percent, and total loads, including highway which was down 7.9 percent at 144,284, up 4.6 percent at 430,859.

IMC intermodal and highway revenue—at $669,111,766 and $194,770, 436—were up 13.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. Total revenue—at $843,083,202—was up 9.0 percent. Average revenue per intermodal load—at $2,339—was up 1.3 percent, and average revenue per highway load—at $1,345—was up 14.1 percent.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
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

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