Total intermodal traffic grew in the third quarter of 2013 by 4.7% year-over-year, attributable to gains across the board. Domestic container volume continued to lead intermodal growth, posting a year-over-year increase of 9.4%, and combined with a 1.2% boost in intermodal trailer volume for the same period, all domestic equipment experienced 7.6% year-over-year gains during the 2013 third quarter.
Also contributing to the increase in total intermodal traffic was a slight uptick in international volume, which posted a 2013 Q3 gain of 2% over 2012. If jobs, consumer spending, and/or the broader economy accelerate, a slow but steady growth trend is likely for the international market.
“For the 10th quarter in a row, domestic container volume flexed its muscles and has outpaced international shipments driving the gains in total intermodal traffic,” said Joni Casey, president and chief executive officer of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). “The trailer segment grew in all three months of Q3, reversing three years of decline and contributed to domestic growth.”
Q3 marks the first time seasonally adjusted domestic shipments exceeded international shipments. This milestone was achieved after a decade of domestic service improvement and five years of accelerated volume gains. A contributing factor was weak international container trade volumes during the recession followed by an inconsistent rebound.
The South Central United States maintained its 7% share of total intermodal traffic in Q3 and reported a solid gain in regional traffic of 3.7% over Q3 2012. Both trailer and container numbers contributed to the solid showing.
The Southeast region led intermodal in the third quarter of 2013, achieving an 11.3% gain over the same period of 2012, according to IANA’s data. Following immediately behind was the Northeast region, which posted an 8.3% gain compared with Q3 2012. The Midwest kept its year-over-year Q3 hold on the largest percentage share of regional traffic with 28%.
Year-over-year intermodal marketing company (IMC) volume improved significantly in Q3, growing 5.7% versus 1.1% in Q2. Improving imports and transload volumes played a large role in the IMC business surge.
Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis. The report features detailed analyses and reproducible graphical representations of Q3 2013 results.
For more information, access www.intermodal.org.