Total intermodal volumes rose 7.2% in Q1 2018 according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report.
Q1 2018 saw the biggest quarterly increase in North American Intermodal volumes since Q2 2014. Domestic containers increased 6.2%, international intermodal volumes were up 7.0% and trailers led overall growth at 14.5%.
"Drivers for first quarter growth were an overall strong economy, the continued growth of imports, higher fuel prices, tight over-the-road capacity and weak comparisons to lower 2017 volumes in some markets," said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. The rise in trailer on freight car (TOFC) volume of 14.5% is particularly notable as this category has been trending downwards for many years.
Commenting on the market performance by region IANA said: “The seven highest-density trade corridors accounted for 62.8% of total volumes and were collectively up 6.2%. The Northeast-Midwest performed the best of the seven with volumes gaining 12.3%. The South Central-Southwest followed with 8.0%. The trans-Canada, intra-Southeast and Midwest-Southwest lanes had growth of 6.7%, 6.5% and 5.6% respectively, while the Southeast-Southwest managed 2.0%. Only the Midwest-Northwest experienced a decline, 4.8 %and its fourth consecutive quarterly loss”.
IANA also monitors the performance of Intermodal marketing companies, and these had another strong quarter in Q1, though slower than the previous quarter. Total loads were up 10.8%, mostly on highway gains, while revenue grew by 27.1% compared to the 27.9% growth in Q4.