According to the Intermodal Association of North America's Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report, total intermodal volumes dropped 7.4% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2019. Domestic containers fell 2.7% from 2018; international shipments, 9.1%; and trailers, 21.4%.
"We haven't seen full-year declines like these since the 2009 recession. Looser trucking capacity played a role on the domestic side of intermodal, while tariffs and tough comparisons to 2018 volumes affected international," said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. "A comeback could be hastened by a number of factors, including further resolution to trade issues, but it's difficult to predict that timing."
The seven highest-density trade corridors, which amounted to 67.7% of total volume, were down 7.2% in the fourth quarter. The Midwest-Northwest at dropped 15.8% while the South Central-Southwest fell by 13.0%. The negative numbers for the remaining corridors were more moderate: the Midwest-Southwest at 5.7%; the Northeast-Midwest, 5.7%; the Trans-Canada, 4.7%; the Intra-Southeast, 4.4%; and Southeast-Southwest, 3.4%.
Total IMC volume fell 8.4% year-over-year in Q4, with intermodal and highway loads both down. Full year volume declined 7.8%.
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