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8/16/2012 11:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Intermodal Volume Rises 5.2% in 2Q, IANA Reports

By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the Aug. 13 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

North American intermodal shipping volumes rose 5.2% during the second quarter, with the domestic segment growing more quickly than import-export business, the Intermodal Association of North America reported.

Industry executives attributed much of the gain to conversion from truck-only transportation.

In an Aug. 6 report, IANA said the three-month tally for containers and trailers was 3.72 million units, up from 3.53 million in the same time last year.

IANA said it was the highest second-quarter volume for international shipping since 2008.

Domestic shipments rose by 6.7%, container volumes soared, but trailers contracted. International container volume gained 3.9%.

“Growth at this pace is exceptional during any quarter, but this gain is even more remarkable due to the softening economic climate,” IANA President Joni Casey said in announcing the report.

The Commerce Department estimated that U.S. gross domestic product grew by 1.5% during the second quarter.

“The ports still seem kind of sluggish, but the interior rail terminals are doing well, from what we’ve seen,” said Jeff Lang, CEO of the Eagle Group, Wenatchee, Wash.

“The economy isn’t booming, but there are conversions to intermodal from truck,” said Lang, who is chairman of the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference of American Trucking Associations.

Comparing truck-rail movements with pure truck transportation, Lang said intermodal has gained some recent advantages: High diesel fuel prices have made trucking more costly, rail service is more reliable now than in the past, and the shortage of drivers has made it more difficult for trucking companies to operate smoothly.

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