Survey: Intermodal transport gains

| February 10, 2010

Intermodal transport gained market share against trucks in the fourth quarter of 2009, reaching a new high in the process, an analysis by FTR Associates shows.

Intermodal’s share of U.S. long-haul (550-plus miles) movements of international and domestic containerized freight was estimated to be 13.3 percent in the fourth quarter, up 0.2 percent from the third quarter and slightly above the previous high-water mark achieved in the 2008 fourth quarter.

“Intermodal has gained share for three consecutive quarters since the freight meltdown late last year,” says Lawrence Gross, FTR senior consultant. “This latest increase has been driven by improvement in the international intermodal sector, an indication that imports and exports are rebounding faster than domestic traffic.”

The market share of the domestic intermodal sector, which had been growing earlier in the year, was flat in the fourth quarter, says Gross, who expects the overall positive trend to continue. “Provided that the railroads maintain their current high levels of service, we see a variety of factors leading to a resumption of domestic share growth even as the international sector continues to rebound,” he says.

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