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Intermodal loses US market share in fourth quarter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Intermodal shipments lost ground in the US during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Intermodal shipments lost ground in the US during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a report by transportation analysts FTR Associates.


Intermodal’s share of US long-haul (550 miles or more) movements of containerized freight dropped 0.2% to a level of 12.1% from Q3 to Q4, the company reports.


Intermodal’s market share of domestic cargo decreased by 0.1% to a level of 5.6%, reversing a trend that had seen domestic intermodal share increasing for the past year, according to FTR Associates, which delves into the issue in its February Intermodal Monthly Update.


“Intermodal is facing some terrific headwinds at the moment,” said Lawrence Gross, senior consultant for FTR and principal author of the Intermodal Monthly Update. “The combined effects of plunging fuel prices and excess capacity in the motor carrier industry proved too great for domestic intermodal to overcome in the fourth quarter. Compounding the problem is the profound weakness in international trade, a market dominated by long-haul intermodal”.


Gross said he expects intermodal to recapture that market share eventually.


“As truckers continue to shrink their fleets in response to the current weak freight environment, when the economy eventually does begin to recover there will be a significant shortage of truck capacity and intermodal will then be well positioned to benefit,” he concluded.

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