Intermodal container volume for North American railroads reached its highest level in nearly three years in the week ending July 3 as overall intermodal loads soared 36.6 percent over the holiday-shortened week a year ago, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Weekly carload volume also grew 18.8 percent in the 26th week of the year, an expansion that was distorted by the comparison to a week in 2009 that included the Fourth of July holiday.
On a week-to-week sequential basis, carload volume actually slipped slightly from the period ending June 26, extending a relatively flat performance for North American railroads over the last two months.
But intermodal container volume, which was up 39.8 percent over last year, also grew 5.4 percent from the week before, a sign of the growing push by retailers to get goods to markets in advance of the peak shipping and sales season.
The 197,134 intermodal containers hauled during the week marked the highest total the railroads have reported since September 2007 and the sixth-largest total the AAR has recorded.
The AAR said the intermodal volume in the most recent week was up 19.1 percent from the same week in 2008, which also included the July 4 holiday.
Carload traffic expanded 7.8 percent in the first half of 2010 over the same period a year ago, while intermodal volume -- including trailers and containers -- was up 12.9 percent.