-  Graph courtesy IANA

Graph courtesy IANA

Despite tough year-over-year comparisons, intermodal managed 4.7% growth in third quarter, with trailers traveling via the rails the standout, according to the Intermodal Association of North America.

International intermodal volumes increased 4.4%, domestic containers 3.9%, and trailers led overall at 12.1%

"We saw some trail off in growth during the third quarter, relative to the first half of the year, but intermodal's market expansion was still respectable,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA, in a release. “Trailers again performed especially well at the margins. The industry is in a strong position going into the fourth quarter.”

The seven highest-density trade corridors accounted for 62.4% of total volumes and were collectively up 3.9%. The intra-Southeast performed the best of the seven with volumes gaining 12%. The Midwest-Northwest, Northeast-Midwest, and South Central-Southwest lanes had growth of 8.4%, 7.7% and 6.6% respectively. The trans-Canada and Southeast-Southwest recorded losses on international performance of 1.1% and 3.7%, and the Midwest-Southwest eked out 0.2% growth.

As Supply Chain Management Review reports, there are a couple of reasons growth looks softer. For one thing, intermodal volumes for the first half of 2017 were weaker and saw a significant uptick in the second half of the year. So when you compare this year to last year, the growth doesn’t compare well.

In addition, this year, international loads were higher earlier in the year as a result of imports being “pushed forward” in an effort to beat the new tariffs on Chinese imports.

Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA for its members and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis for non-members.