Major railroads in the U.S., Canada and Mexico picked up 1.3 percent more intermodal containers and trailers last week than the week previous, for their second-highest total of 2011.
The Aug. 20 volume also put box hauls by major railroads 1.8 percent ahead of the same week last year, after year-over-year gains of 1.6 percent in the Aug. 13 week and 1.4 percent for Aug. 6.
The Association of American Railroads said the Class I and large regional carriers it tracks loaded 300,194 intermodal units in the week ending Aug. 20, nearly 4,000 loads more than in the second week of this month. That included 265,665 ocean and domestic containers, and 34,529 trailers.
The best week so far this year for intermodal hauls by the top railroads in North America was the week ending July 30, when they loaded 301,393 units of either stackable containers or truck trailers on flatcars.
The continued yearly increases, while mild, show the intermodal sector maintaining strength in August despite evidence that box imports weakened this summer. International container moves make up roughly 60 percent of the boxes that North America’s railroads haul, with the rest a mix of domestic containers and trailers.
The gains have slowed from earlier this summer, when intermodal traffic often ran 3 percent to 4 percent ahead of year-ago levels. Railroads started the year with intermodal growing at a much stronger pace from 2010; for the 33 weeks through Aug. 20 they hauled 6 percent more intermodal volume in 2011 than in the same period last year.