US intermodal bounces back in second half of 2020

Business improved for the US intermodal sector in the last quarter of the year. Total intermodal volumes rose 9.6% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal (IANA) Quarterly report.

Domestic containers gained 8.7% year-over-year 2020; international shipments, 9.4%; and trailers, 17.5%, according to the report.


“Intermodal continued its comeback in the fourth quarter after declines in the first half of the year,” said Joni Casey, CEO of IANA. in a statement “Against the backdrop of COVID, all market sectors posted gains, setting the pace into at least Q1 of 2021.” 

The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled more than 60% of total volume, were up 10.3% in the fourth quarter. Three were up double digits:

  • Trans-Canada,19.7%
  • South Central-Southwest,13.4%; 
  • Midwest-Southwest,13%.


The Intra-Southeast saw a 9.6% increase, while the Northeast-Midwest increased 9.5%. The Midwest-Northwest rose 7.5%, and the Southeast-Southwest grew 2.4%.


Total IMC volume rose 17.2% year-over-year in Q4, with intermodal and highway loads up 13.1% and 20.0 percent, respectively. 

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