U.S. intermodal traffic grew 4.7 percent to 4 million units in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, according to the Intermodal Association of North America. Domestic container volume remained the biggest growth sector, posting a 9.4-percent increase over the same period in 2012.
Domestic volume grew 7.6 percent when intermodal trailers, which grew 1.2 percent, are included in the mix.
International intermodal traffic has been in decline in recent years because the contents of many 40-foot international containers are immediately transferred to domestic 53-foot units at seaports, but during the third quarter, international volume grew 2 percent, year-over-year.
The trailer growth is a surprise because trailer volumes have declined for three years as railroads look toward more efficient double-stack container opportunities.
IANA said the third quarter marks the first time seasonally adjusted domestic shipments exceeded international shipments.
Intermodal wholesalers improved their volume by 5.7 percent compared to 1.1 percent growth in the second quarter due to import growth and increased use of transloading, IANA said.