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Rail News: Intermodal

IANA: Intermodal shipments rose 1 percent in Q4, fell 2 percent for full year

Intermodal freight volumes rose 1 percent in fourth-quarter 2016 compared with the same period a year ago, which tempered volume declines earlier in the year, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) announced late last week.

IANA reported 4.35 million shipments during last year's fourth quarter. The improvement over Q4 2015 occurred "despite an ongoing freight recession that permeated the transportation industry and resulted in lower intermodal volumes during the second and third quarters," IANA officials said in a press release.

Shipment declines during the second and fourth quarters resulted in a 2.1 percent decline in intermodal volumes for full-year 2016 compared with 2015. The total of 17.1 million shipments was the first full-year decline since 2008.

"While full-year totals didn't meet our original expectations, we turned the corner in November and December," said IANA President and Chief Executive Officer Joni Casey. "The 4 percent increase in domestic container volume during 2016 is a consistent and positive indicator of long term growth for the industry."

Domestic containers posted a 3.4 percent increase in the quarter. International shipments rose 0.6 percent. Declines continued in the trailer segment, which were down 9.2 percent in the quarter.

The seven highest-density trade corridors — which account for 63.3 percent of total intermodal volume — rose a collective 1.8 percent during Q4.

The Midwest-Northwest and Northeast-Midwest lanes saw the largest Q4 increases at 4.3 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Midwest-Southwest volumes, which were the highest, grew 1.4 percent. The South Central-Southwest lane, the only major lane to post a decline, fell 4.4 percent on container losses.

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