Total intermodal volumes declined 6.7 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Quarterly report. While domestic containers gained 2.2 percent from 2019, international shipments dropped 11.3 percent and trailers, 23.3 percent.
“The coronavirus is the obvious headwind going into Q2, on top of existing trade issues, and no market segment is immune,” commented Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA. “We don’t know how long volumes will remain where they are, and recovery will bring its own set of challenges.”
First Quarter 2020 Intermodal Volume Comparisons
The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled 63.0 percent of total volume, were down 7.7 percent in the first quarter. Two recorded double-digit losses: the Midwest-Northwest at 15.1 percent and the South Central-Southwest at 14.7 percent. The negative numbers for the remaining corridors were more moderate: the Midwest-Southwest at 7.7 percent; the Trans-Canada, 7.7 percent; the Southeast-Southwest, 5.4 percent; the Intra-Southeast, 4.7 percent; and the Northeast-Midwest, 2.1 percent.
Combined IMC volumes improved over the same period in 2019 with a total 1.6 percent increase. Highway loads were up 2.9 percent, notwithstanding a 0.3 percent loss on intermodal.