Intermodal Volumes Decline Again in Third Quarter

November 03, 2016

Intermodal Volumes Decline Again in Third Quarter

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Total intermodal traffic recorded another volume decline in Q3 of 2016, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s latest quarterly Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report. Contributing to this loss were intermodal trailer volumes which dropped 26.9 percent and international shipments which fell 6.7 percent. The domestic container business experienced gains of 3.3 percent which kept the overall volume loss to 4.6 percent.

“The Q3 results were in line with the previous quarter, reflecting sluggish market conditions,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “Projections for 2017 are more optimistic, based on continued increases in consumer spending and expectations that the international side of the equation will stabilize.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors, accounting for 63.6 percent of total intermodal volume, collectively dropped 3.9 percent year over year. The Midwest-Northwest corridor saw a 3.0 percent gain in traffic, dominated by containers. All other corridors posted declines. These ranged from only 0.8 percent in the cases of both the Northeast-Midwest and Trans-Canada lanes, to 11.2 percent in the South Central-Southwest corridor. Midwest-Southwest volumes, which are the highest, shrank by 5.3 percent.

Regional losses were widespread, based largely on international traffic. At one end, the Mountain Central and Mexico regions were both in negative territory at 11.5 percent. Western and Eastern Canada came closest to breaking even with -0.2 percent and -2.9 percent respectively. The Southwest, Midwest and Southeast regions clustered around the -4.6 percent industry average. Positive international shipments supported overall growth of 0.1 percent in the Northeast and 4.4 percent in the Northwest, the two exceptions in the third quarter.

Intermodal Marketing Companies again demonstrated clear gains in the highway market sector. Thanks to excess trucking capacity, highway volumes were up 14.6 percent from the previous year. Intermodal loads fell 11.6 percent. The net result for reporting IMCs was a total volume decrease of 0.1 percent.

Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA and and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis. Effective January 2016, IANA’s Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics includes expanded information on Mexican intermodal movements. Members of the press may request a sample copy of the 2016 Second Quarter Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics from Art Cleaver at The report features detailed analyses and reproducible graphical representations of Q2 2016 results.

IANA is North America’s leading industry trade association representing 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