The daily volume of intermodal containers moving in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The data are presented as 7-day moving averages using the date that containers were in-gated at point of origin. Since it includes only containerized intermodal volume, intermodal trailers (trailer-on-flatcar, or TOFC) are excluded.
The data is broken out as follows:
Container size and international/domestic breakdown
Direction of travel (outbound versus inbound) and lane (origin-destination pairing)
Loaded or empty
Volume compared to past year or month
Aggregated Country Volume
Shippers use intermodal volume by lane to evaluate whether there is sufficient intermodal density in their current highway lanes to warrant exploring the use of intermodal to lower freight costs.
Shippers use rail intermodal volume for insights into whether other shippers are finding value in intermodal service. Rising intermodal volume may suggest that shippers are receiving adequate service at rates that undercut highway rates in the same lane.
Non-asset based logistics companies can utilize the loaded and empty container volume to assess where containers can be sourced in order to provide shippers with intermodal solutions.
Drayage companies utilize inbound intermodal volume data to understand drayage demand in the upcoming days. Since the volume in ORAIL/IRAIL is based on the date of container in-gating, a drayage company in Chicago, for instance, is given a heads-up about demand in the coming days by viewing the dense LA-Chicago lane (ORAIL.LAXCHI) or by just looking at inbound Chicago volume (IRAIL.CHI).
Equity research analysts use domestic intermodal volume to help model the quarterly results of the public domestic intermodal companies (i.e., J.B. Hunt, Hub Group and Schneider). The ticker ORAILDOML.USA, which includes only loaded domestic containers, which closely represents that segment’s market.
According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), rail intermodal is the largest single source of U.S. freight rail revenue and represents a competitively priced, environmentally friendly alternative to road transport. It has grown in large part because railroads have invested billions of dollars on new intermodal terminals, track upgrades, and other infrastructure projects that have made rail intermodal more reliable and cost-effective.
Rail intermodal is defined as the long-haul movement of shipping containers and truck trailers by rail, combined with a truck or water movement at one or both ends. Intermodal allows railroads, ocean carriers, trucking companies, and intermodal customers to take advantage of the best attributes of various transportation modes to yield an efficient and cost-effective overall freight movement.
The daily volume of intermodal containers tells you: