Railroad intermodal (the movement of trailers and containers aboard flatcars) is poised to enter a “golden age,” reports the Journal of Commerce.

The magazine estimates that 2011 could set an intermodal shipment record, eclipsing the record 14.2 million trailers and containers hauled by rail in 2006. In 2010, railroads hauled 13.4 million trailers and containers.

For the six weeks ending Feb. 12, the Association of American Railroads reports trailer and container loads are running more than 7 percent ahead of the same period in 2010.

Given a spike in fuel prices owing to Mideast turmoil, and the fuel efficiency advantage of rail over truck, that surge is expected to continue.