Intermodal Volumes Climb 3.4 Percent in Q3

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IANA Q3 Report: Domestic and International Nearly Even with Volume Increases of 4.1 and 4 Percent, Respectively

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Despite month-to-month variations, Q3 intermodal growth of 3.4 percent was in line with year-to-date results, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s third quarter Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report. The international market segment showed some volatility as its volumes climbed 3.3 percent in July and 6.4 percent in August, then slowed to 1.6 percent growth in September. Nevertheless, the segment closed the quarter with a 4 percent increase, almost even with the 4.1 percent growth in domestic containers.

“The international market segment normalized this quarter after dealing with the lingering effects of Q1 port congestion that were still felt during the second quarter,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “Overall we are seeing international container trends approaching pre-recession levels and domestic volume gains returning to numbers that are comparable to international.”

The domestic trailer market segment shrunk 3.1 percent in a quarter-over-quarter comparison, making Q3 the fifth consecutive quarter of dipping trailer volumes. This deflated the quarterly gains realized in total intermodal loads. However, September domestic container growth of 6 percent helped boost overall domestic numbers.

The seven highest-density trade corridors, accounting for 66 percent of total intermodal volume, rose 3.7% this quarter, exceeding the industry average. Growth rates for each individual corridor varied widely. The intra-Southeast corridor, positively affected by stronger imports and rising market share over trucking, experienced gains of over 20 percent. Meanwhile, the South Central-Southwest corridor volumes decreased by 5.9 percent, with international particularly affected.

Regional traffic growth was overall positive in Q3, despite significant losses in the South Central region and slight declines in Western Canada. The South Central area’s 9.2 percent decline is largely the result of a fall in international shipments. The Northwest and Southeast regions countered with substantial volume increases in Q3, rising 9.9 and 9.1 percent, respectively.

Intermodal Marketing Companies demonstrated clear growth in market share during a period of depressed freight output. Highway loadings shot up 10 percent, while intermodal loadings rose by just under 2 percent, combining to produce an overall volume increase of 5.2 percent. However, revenue decreases in both highway and intermodal loadings, resulting in a 3 percent decline, yielded mixed results for IMCs this quarter.

Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics is published quarterly by IANA and is available on a subscription and individual copy basis. Members of the press may request a sample copy of the 2015 Third Quarter Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics from Tara Mullen at tara(at) The report features detailed analyses and reproducible graphical representations of Q3 2015 results.

About IANA
IANA is North America's only industry trade association that represents the combined interests of the intermodal freight industry. The association’s mission is to promote the growth of efficient intermodal freight transportation through innovation, education and dialogue. The association offers valuable information and services specific to the intermodal industry encompassing consensus business solutions that facilitate: operations, regulatory compliance, and policy issue management. IANA's membership roster of over 1,000 members represents the diverse companies critical to moving freight efficiently and safely. IANA provides a discussion forum for the many types of stakeholders along the supply chain, resulting in a strong unified voice advocating the needs of intermodal freight transportation. For more information, visit

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Jeff Agnew
Blakey & Agnew
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Anna Denecke