Intermodal Volume Climbs 8.4 Percent Year-Over-Year In First Quarter

Domestic container volume leads charge with 15.7 percent increase; port volumes saw a 7.8 percent gain in international containers.

Calverton, MD: The U.S. economy emerged from its recession during the first quarter of 2010 as increased consumer demand and inventory acquisition prompted a significant rise in total intermodal volume.

Domestic container volume posted the strongest growth, rising 15.7 percent year-over-year. Compared to 0.1 percent growth during Q1 09, this new growth indicates the uptick is not just a rebound from last year’s depressed volume levels. Domestic container increases expanded monthly during the quarter, ranging from 10 percent in January to more than 20 percent during March.

All U.S. regions recorded increases in domestic container volume greater than 10 percent year-over-year while Canadian domestic container shipments were down 1 percent, hindering the overall growth rate.

Strong port volumes supported a 7.8 percent gain in international containers during the quarter. Like domestic container growth, international growth accelerated throughout the quarter. While international containers grew by only 1 percent in January and 3 percent in February, they strongly advanced 1 percent in March. Gains in international container shipments were broad-based across all regions except the Southwest, which dropped 2.8 percent during the quarter.

The rise in domestic and international intermodal shipments translated into an 8.4 percent intermodal volume gain year-over-year. Although total intermodal volume was flat in January compared to 2009, by March total intermodal volume was 16.7 percent higher than during last year.

All regions recorded total intermodal volume growth greater than 6 percent during the quarter, except the Southwest region, which experienced only a 2.8 percent uptick. With the first quarter off to a strong start, and the emerging economic recovery, continued strong service levels, growing domestic container fleets, and rising fuel prices, intermodal appears poised for a strong rebound in 2010.