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May 2, 2019 3:15 PM, EDT

Intermodal Shipments Fall, but International Volumes Increase

Intermodal Containers at an AFS Intermodal terminal. (AFS Intermodal)

First-quarter total intermodal volumes fell 1.5% year-over-year after posting strong growth in 2018, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report.

At the same time, international intermodal volumes increased 1.2%, but domestic containers and trailers dropped 4.1% and 5.4%, respectively, compared with a year earlier, according to the Calverton, Md.-based organization.

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“A variety of factors across North America played into first-quarter results, including the reduction of tariff-driven imports. Tough year-over-year comparisons also had an impact, which will play a role in the coming quarters,” Joni Casey, CEO of IANA, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the seven highest-density trade corridors, which accounted for 63.7% of total volume, were down 0.2% for the quarter. Results varied widely across lanes. The intra-Southeast corridor was the best performer, rising 8.7%, and the Midwest-Northwest corridor came in a strong second at 5.7%. They were followed by the Southwest-South Central lane at 1% and the trans-Canada lane at 0.8%. The Northeast-Midwest corridor declined by 0.5%, the Southwest-Southeast corridor by 3.2% and the Midwest-Southwest by 5.1%.

After a modest drop in the fourth quarter, intermodal marketing companies’ volumes fell 7.1% in the first quarter. This was the first time since the last recession that both intermodal and highway loads declined during the same quarter, according to IANA. — Transport Topics