If the first half of 2018 was a bellwether, beneficial cargo owners will face unprecedented challenges using intermodal this peak season, which appears to be starting earlier than in prior years. Intermodal traffic rose 7 percent in the first five months of the year, according to the Intermodal Association of North America. The number of 40-foot containers moving on the rails rose 7 percent, while 53-foot containers increased 6.4 percent and trailer-on-flatcar shipments jumped 17 percent. In the past five years, overall intermodal volume grew 12 percent; domestic business increased 20 percent.
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