U.S. intermodal volume grew 14.7 percent in 2010 in a strong recovery from the steep downturn the year before that included an 18.5 percent rebound in international container volume, according to Intermodal Association of North America figures released Tuesday.
The international box volume grew 16.9 percent in the fourth quarter, maintaining a strong pace even as domestic container growth slipped back to 8.9 percent in the last three months of the year.
Overall intermodal container volume grew 12.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010, IANA said, pushing the industry past the levels the association reported in 2008, before the economic downturn sent volume diving.
By The Numbers: U.S. Intermodal Shipments
For the full year, overall intermodal volume reached just under 13.4 million domestic and international containers and domestic truck trailers, about 2 percent short of the total IANA reported in 2008.
International container volume and domestic trailer both fell short of the 2008 levels despite the gains last year. But the consistent surge in international container volume through the end of the year as retailers pushed more goods out of Asia to U.S. markets sent that traffic beyond 1.84 million boxes for the quarter, exceeding the 2008 level.
Domestic container traffic grew 13.3 percent for the full year over 2009, including 8.9 percent growth in the fourth quarter, IANA said. That business was one of the few categories in the freight industry not hit hard in the downturn, and actually grew 2.9 percent year-over-year in 2009.
The trailer traffic from trucking companies, has not recovered as strongly after sliding 22.1 percent in 2009. The business grew 3.7 percent last year, according to IANA, leaving trailer volume 19.2 percent the level reported in 2008.