Intermodal Bounces Back in Q1

May 03, 2017

Intermodal Bounces Back in Q1

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Intermodal freight volumes returned to growth in the first quarter of this year following declines during 2016, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report. International and domestic containers rose 2.9 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, and intermodal trailers posted minimal gains of 0.3 percent.

“All intermodal market segments showed improvement in the first quarter,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “What’s notable about this is that it comes on the heels of 2.0 percent growth in the same quarter of last year, suggesting real gains, not just a weak comparison.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors, accounting for 63.4 percent of total intermodal volume, collectively were up 2.1 percent in the quarter. Gains were varied, ranging from a 7.4 percent increase between Eastern and Western Canada, to a 1.3 percent loss in the South Central-Southwest corridor. The corridor with the highest volumes, the Midwest-Southwest, grew 1.7 percent.

In a new rotating feature, the IMTS report will be highlighting additional information on specific corridors. During Q1, the focus is on international container growth. Of the top five corridors contributing to international volume growth, shipment gains were in the East to West lanes. Midwest-Southwest moves increased 19 percent, the highest share of international volume growth, followed by the Northeast-Midwest at 13 percent. The Eastbound Western Canada-Eastern Canada lane experienced 13 percent gains.

Intermodal Marketing Company reporting offers a view of rail-hauled quarterly performance side by side with highway results. Participating IMCs showed gains of 7.5 percent in total quarterly loads, reflecting the continued strength of highway shipments. These increased 11.6 percent over the same quarter the previous year. Intermodal loads also gained 3.6 percent after a double-digit drop for the full 2016 year.

Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA for its members and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis for non-members. Members of the press may request a sample copy of the 2017 First Quarter Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report from Art Cleaver at The report features detailed analyses and reproducible graphical representations of Q1 2017 results.

IANA is North America's only industry trade association that represents the combined interests of the intermodal freight industry. The association’s mission is to promote the growth of efficient intermodal freight transportation through innovation, education and dialogue. The association offers valuable information and services specific to the intermodal industry encompassing consensus business solutions that facilitate: operations, regulatory compliance, and policy issue management. IANA's membership roster of over 1,000 members represents the diverse companies critical to moving freight efficiently and safely. IANA provides a discussion forum for the many types of stakeholders along the supply chain, resulting in a strong unified voice advocating the needs of intermodal freight transportation. For more information, visit