Domestic intermodal container volume in the first quarter surged 14.9 percent year-over-year, outpacing international intermodal traffic gains by a wide margin and reconfirming strong U.S. manufacturing growth.
Higher diesel prices and tightening truck capacity also were major factors in domestic intermodal gaining market share, according to the Intermodal Association of North America. Domestic intermodal growth was the strongest in the East, where the sector faces stiffer competition from trucking.
International intermodal container traffic rose 2.9 percent year-over-year, reflecting the moderate import volume U.S. ports have seen so far this year. The intermodal market, consisting of 90 percent containers, expanded 5.8 percent year-over-year in the first quarter.
Still, international intermodal traffic is gaining momentum, rising 9.6 percent from the last quarter. Retailers’ strong restocking after a better-than-expected holiday season drove the quarter-to-quarter gains.
Trailer volume fell 6.9 percent year-over-year but expanded 7.4 percent from the prior quarter. Domestic equipment volume rose 9.1 percent in the same period.
“Domestic container gains may slow in coming months as comparisons to the previous year become more competitive, but international growth will likely accelerate,” said IANA. "Overall, we believe container shipments should maintain their stronggrowth rate through the year.”