Intermodal turned a corner in the third quarter, according to a report by the Intermodal Association of North America.
Total intermodal volumes rose 1.2% year-over-year during the quarter. At the same time, domestic containers and trailers both gained 9.8% compared to the third quarter of 2019, while international shipments (measured in ISO containers) dropped 6.5%.
The latter may have occurred because of a recent diminishment in the flow of imports as well as exports, which has worsened the United States’ already lopsided balance of trade.
“Inventory replenishment and increasing e-commerce activity, along with some capacity constraints on the trucking side, have helped intermodal to turn the corner this quarter,” said IANA President Joni Casey. “This trend is expected to continue, but dependent on the ongoing impacts of Covid-19.”
The seven highest-density trade corridors, credited with handling more than 60% of total volume, were collectively up 1.9% in the third quarter.
Three of them recorded improvement. The Midwest-Southwest and the Northeast-Midwest corridors both boasted gains of 6.6%, and the South Central-Southwest corridor was up 4.9%.
The remaining four corridors showed losses. For the Trans-Canada, this was a slight 0.7% reduction. The Intra-Southeast decrease came in at 1.5%; the Southeast-Southwest, 5.4%; and the Midwest-Northwest corridor dropped 13.6%.
Combined intermodal marketing company volumes improved over the third quarter as well, registering a total 8.6% increase. IMC highway and intermodal loads were up 7.7% and 10.1%, respectively, these intermodal third parties reported.