If the second-quarter results are any indication, the intermodal freight sector is recovering nicely from the recession.
According to the US-based Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), overall intermodal volumes were up 17.2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2009.
Domestic container volumes rose 16.4 percent to 1,128,108 units—a new record high. This marked the 20th consecutive quarter of growth for domestic containers.
At 406,080 units, trailer volumes were up five percent, but are expected to further decline later this year.
Overall, domestic intermodal volume—using all equipment—rose 13.2 percent to 1,534,188, a large enough increase to eradicate the losses of 2008 and 2009, and enough to set a record for the highest domestic intermodal loadings in a quarter.
What’s behind this uptick? According to IANA, inventory restocking has played a large role. During the recession, retailers aggressively cut inventories to untenably low levels. As a result, they have started to replenish inventories, which has caused traffic to increase.
International container volumes increased 20.9 percent to 1,782,594 units—the first time international volumes grew more rapidly than domestic in nearly four years.
In total, all intermodal volumes in the second quarter were up 17.2 percent from second-quarter 2009. While IANA warns that total intermodal shipments are still below pre-recession levels, they have recovered “significantly”.