Intermodal growth in the U.S.

International growth accelerated during Q2 2012, posting its best quarterly result in a year and improving from Q1’s 2.9% uptick, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report, released this week. The quarter served as international’s highest Q2 – in absolute terms – since 2008.

Port-released figures suggest that U.S. container imports gained nearly 4% during the quarter. Increases were closer to 3% on the West Coast and nearer to 5% on the East Coast. In comparison, Canadian container import volumes continued to make great strides, particularly on the West Coast, where imports through the Ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver posted nearly 20% year-over-year gains in the quarter.

Equipment Types20112012Change
Domestic Containers1,229,8151,383,599+12.5%
All Domestic Equipment1,654,4021,764,750+6.7%
ISO Containers1,878,1261,951,571+3.9%

Domestic container volume increased an impressive 12.5% year-over-year in Q2, with growth only slightly under the strong 14.9% gain posted by domestic containers last quarter. “Growth at this pace is exceptional during any quarter, but this gain is even more remarkable due to the softening economic climate,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey.

Intermodal Marketing Companies extended their strong intermodal performance into Q2 with a 9.7% surge in intermodal volume, nearly attaining a second straight quarter of double-digit gains. Continued gains in rail-supplied domestic container volume helped boost IMC intermodal growth. Although private containers still dominate the big box segment with about two-thirds of total volume, rail-supplied containers hit record volume levels in Q2, topping 440,000 total loads.