Intermodal transport broke market share records against trucks in the fourth quarter of 2009, paced largely by giants in the international intermodal sector, according to a study released today by FTR Associates.
Intermodal's share of longhaul movements of international and domestic containerized freight—defined as 550 miles and longer—was 13.3 percent in the fourth quarter, up 0.2 percent from the third quarter and slightly above the previous record set in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to estimates from the Nashville, Ind.-based research and consulting firm.
"Intermodal has gained share for three consecutive quarters" since the U.S. economy and freight volumes dramatically declined in the latter part of 2008, said Lawrence Gross, senior consultant for FTR.
Gross said the latest gains are being driven by international volumes, an indication U.S. import and export volumes are rebounding faster than domestic traffic. Intermodal's share of the domestic U.S. market, which had been growing during 2009, flattened out in the fourth quarter, Gross said.
Gross expects intermodal's momentum to continue during 2010 as long as railroads maintain high service levels. He sees intermodal resuming domestic market share growth even as the international segment continues to rebound.