Watch intermodal containers like a hawk.

FreightWaves Customer SuccessDaily Tips

Did you know? You can see daily containerized intermodal volume by container size, lane and market with SONAR’s ORAIL data.

What is it?

Outbound/Inbound Containerized Intermodal Volume (ORAIL/IRAIL) – is a daily series of the average containerized intermodal volume from the prior seven days. 

For example, if there were 700 intermodal containers moved between City A and City B in the past week, that lane shows a total ORAIL value of 100. Containers are counted at the time they enter the originating rail terminal, or ingated, rather than when they are moved by the railroad, to make the series more forward-looking. The volume can be viewed in detailed granularity, as described below.  

This chart shows 40’ and 53’ container volume out of L.A. in the past year. 

Who needs it?

Analysts: Analysts can utilize ORAIL data to gain visibility into intermodal volume trends in particular industry granularities (e.g., domestic container volume between L.A. and Dallas) that most impact publicly traded companies.

Carriers: Growing containerized intermodal traffic into or out of a city means there will be more drayage opportunities to and from rail ramps. In addition, ORAIL can be used to illustrate how competitive intermodal is with truckload based on comparative volume trends in the same lanes or over similar lengths of haul. That helps carriers determine which services to offer in the lane and where to position resources.    

Brokers: Brokers can utilize loaded container volume (ORAILL/IRAILL) to gain visibility into which locations they can broker intermodal loads in addition to truckloads and where they might be able to source capacity cheaper in the intermodal market. Brokers that arrange intermodal loads can utilize the visibility into empty container volume (ORAILE and IRAILE) to see where there is excess capacity and where empty containers can be sourced. 

Shippers: Shippers can quickly see what the market is telling us about intermodal’s competitiveness in their shipping lanes. Dense intermodal lanes with growing volumes means that other shippers are finding savings on their transportation spend, combined with adequate levels of service, by utilizing rail intermodal.   

What can I do with it?

ORAIL/IRAIL is the ultimate intermodal volume tool. It gives SONAR users visibility to daily changes in the intermodal market and is broken down in detailed granularity not found in other data sources. 

Because domestic intermodal and international intermodal are two distinct markets, ORAIL/IRAIL can be broken down between international (ORAILINT) and domestic (ORAILDOM),l and can be further broken down by container size. For example, If one wants to look only at the volume of 53’ domestic containers and exclude all other sizes, use ORAIL53. For only the volume of 20’ international containers, use ORAIL20.

In addition, ORAIL and IRAIL are also broken down between loaded container volume (ORAILL) and empty container volume (ORAILE). We recommend utilizing that breakdown because of the differing economics between carriers moving loaded containers and revenue empties. For example, the volume of 40’ loaded container movements is ORAIL40L while the volume of empty 40’ container movements is ORAIL40E. 

ORAIL and IRAIL are broken down by inbound and outbound volume origin/destination market and are also broken down by lane. That’s important since intermodal volume is dominated by a few key lanes. 

Use airport codes to utilize granularities. For example, for 53’ loaded containers between Los Angeles and Chicago: ORAIL53L.LAXCHI. For 40’ empty containers arriving into Seattle from all origins: IRAIL40E.SEA.

Show me how!

Click intermodal major lanes to view containerized volume (inclusive of both international and domestic containerized movements and inclusive of both loaded and empty containers). 

  • The time period comparison can be changed via the dropdown box in the upper left.
  • Each lane is clickable to bring up a line graph for that particular lane.
Outbound Rail Container Volume Dashboard

Pro Tip: Use ORAIL in conjunction with LOTVI on the same lanes to gain visibility on shifts in market share between rail intermodal and truckload. 

If you have questions about outbound tender volumes, please contact us at

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