International Volume Gains 2.9%

CALVERTON, Md., May 8, 2012 – Domestic containers were the big winner in Q1 2012, gaining a remarkable 14.9% year-over-year, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report, released today. While a rebounding economy helped boost volume, much of Q1’s domestic intermodal gains can be attributed to market share growth, as trucking capacity was tight during the quarter and diesel prices resumed their rise after softening in Q4 2011. Domestic container gains were biggest in the East, where intermodal faces more competition from trucking.

First Quarter 2012 Intermodal Volume Comparisons


Equipment Type 2011 2012 Change
Trailers 411,585 383,034 -6.9%
Domestic Containers 1,122,349 1,290,139 +14.9%
All Domestic Equipment 1,533,934  1,673,173 +9.1%
ISO Containers 1,752,372 1,803,327 +2.9%
Total 3,286,306 3,476,500 +5.8%

International volume increased 2.9%, a gain that on the surface pales in comparison to the strength of domestic containers. Yet, a closer look at the numbers suggests that international intermodal’s Q1 performance was actually much stronger than the year-over year growth rate would suggest. International intermodal shipments advanced 9.6% in Q1 2011. This strong performance was driven by the need for retailers to replenish inventories after a better-than-expected holiday sales season. The booming growth in the first quarter of 2011 has made comparisons more challenging for Q1 2012

Trailer shipments declined 6.9% year-over-year in the quarter, and again, part of the decline is due to stronger comparisons – in Q1 2011, trailers gained a robust 7.4%. But with containers close to 90% of the market, overall intermodal volume gained an impressive 5.8% during this quarter. Domestic container gains may slow in coming months as comparisons to the previous year become more competitive, but international growth will likely accelerate. Overall, we believe container shipments should maintain their strong growth rate through the year.

Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis. Members of the working press may request a copy of the Q1 2012 Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report from Matt Mlynarczyk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 703-623-2929.  The report features detailed analyses and reproducible graphical representations of Q1 2012 results.

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