3PL News

53-Foot Trailers Post Best Showing Since 2005 with 21.7% Gain

CALVERTON, Md., May 13, 2011 – Intermodal volume increased 9% year-over-year in Q1 2011 as international volume grew for the fifth-straight quarter, posting a solid 9.6% uptick, according to a report released May 12 by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).  IANA’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report also notes that overall domestic intermodal volume also increased during the quarter by a significant 8.4%.

International gains were propelled by continued strength in imports as retail sales and consumer spending improved in Q1 2011. Domestic volumes also continued to increase, with trailer loads rising 7.5% – the fourth-consecutive quarter of gains for trailers. Most notable is that 53-foot trailer loads posted a substantial 21.7% gain, the best performance for this category since Q1 2005. Rapidly rising diesel fuel prices may have helped shift some over-the-road volume to rail during the quarter.

First Quarter 2011 Intermodal Volume Comparisons

Equipment Type 2010 2011 Change
Trailers 383,364 412,221 +7.5%
Domestic Containers 1,034,036 1,124,769 +8.8%
All Domestic Equipment 1,417,400 1,536,990 +8.4%
ISO Containers 1,601,909 1,755,301 +9.6%
Total 3,019,309 3,292,291 +9.0%

Domestic container volume increased 8.8%, only slightly below Q4 2010’s 8.9% rise. Unlike some recent quarters, gains were not driven by transloaded international freight. The most significant domestic container growth came from the Southeast (16.7%), followed by the South Central (15.5%) and the Northeast (14.4%) regions. The Southwest and Western Canada regions – both centers of international freight transloading by rail – posted below average increases during Q1 2011.

Intermodal volume forecasts by some analysts project overall gains of 6%–8% in 2011, indicating that this should be a good year for all intermodal markets, especially as year-over-year comparisons bump-up against the strong gains of late 2010.

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 sample copy of the Q1 2011 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 2011 results.

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