Intermodal Traffic Outpaces US Economy
Dec 1, 2000 12:00 PM, MODERN BULK TRANSPORTER STAFF
The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) released third-quarter 2000 rail intermodal traffic data, which shows that total volume is up an estimated 6.5% over the same period in 1999. Both domestic and international traffic totals rose as railroads continued to improve service after merger-related issues and an increase of imports in anticipation of the coming holidays.
The Rail Intermodal Traffic Report shows international (ISO) containers up almost 12% from 1999. Business in international containers - loaded, empty, or in domestic backhaul service - accounted for more than half the total traffic and most of the traffic growth. Domestic intermodal traffic is also on the rise, with the increase in domestic container moves. Recent data continue to show declines in all trailer categories. Some LTL motor carriers have reduced their intermodal usage while others shift from 28-foot trailers to 28-ft containers. Several truckload carriers have withdrawn from intermodal, and those that remain are more likely to use containers as well. Third-quarter data show containers now accounting for 74% of the intermodal total. Overall, intermodal traffic growth continues to outpace the United States economy.
Canadian regions showed trailer traffic growth while every US region showed a drop. About 44% of North American trailer traffic originates in the Midwest, and the decline in trailer business has reduced the Midwest share of the overall total. In the Southwest, the rapid growth in containerized imports creates massive capacity for domestic backhauls in ISO boxes and accounts in large part for the drop in trailer traffic.
The report also discusses rising fuel prices and points out US Department of Energy estimates for the future. It is reported that fuel prices are expected to peak in fourth-quarter 2000 and moderate thereafter, but still remain higher than at year-end 1999.
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