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Is Robust Intermodal Growth The Sign of More to Come?

Volume 2, Issue 3
February 15, 2014
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The Intermodal Association of North America pointed to solid domestic intermodal growth in 2013 as evidence that the industry has cemented its role in the North American supply chain.

Building on the industry’s positive 2012 performance, total shipments improved 4.6% in 2013, according to IANA’s fourth quarter and year- end numbers released Feb. 6.

Domestic box volume, which doubled over the past 10 years, outperformed other markets in 2013, ending the year with a 9.4% bump, consistent with fourth quarter growth of this segment at 9%.

“This has been a banner year and quarter for intermodal, underscoring the strong alternative it provides to over-the-road transport,” IANA President Joni Casey declared.

IANA reported that international intermodal continued its comeback from previous quarters and recorded growth of 2.3% in 2013, as compared to 1.8% in 2012. Numbers for the fourth quarter of 2013 for the same sector jumped a solid 5.9% over the same quarter in 2012.

Due to depressed fourth quarter 2012 loadings, IANA said it expected a bump in international containers, but this quarter’s uptick suggests a trend rather than easy year-over-year comparisons.

IANA said the increase posted by trailers was particularly impressive in fourth quarter, reaching almost 5% and nearly reversing an exceptionally slow performance earlier in the year. Overall, trailer shipments ended the year only 0.7% below 2012.

Of the seven largest volume corridors within the United States, the Midwest-Southwest was the clear winner; the lane expanded a notable 12.9% when compared with last year’s fourth quarter.

The intra-Southeast saw key corridor growth rose 5.9% during the quarter. The Southeast had the highest gains, with a 10.4% year-over-year increase due to the region’s exposure to domestic containers.

The Mountain Central, Northeast and Midwest regions also rose just under 10%. IANA said the Northwest region underperformed because of a sharp drop in international intermodal volumes.

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