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Freight-rail traffic in the U.S. might have dipped slightly in 2007 compared with 2006, but in many parts of the world, railroads registered traffic growth, according to the International Union of Railways (UIC). Traffic in China, Russia and India rose more than 7 percent last year, and after increasing 4 percent in 2006, European freight-rail traffic grew another 1 percent. Economic and demographic developments, and the globalization of trade links fueled the increase, UIC said. Passenger railroads registered more traffic, too. The Indian and Chinese railways last year posted growth rates of 12.9 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, with each railroad recording almost 435 billion passenger-miles. Passenger traffic grew more than 10 percent in the United Kingdom, and between 1.5 percent and 2 percent in Europe and Japan.
After a stellar March, first-quarter 2008 tie purchases totaled 6.2 million units, a 26 percent jump compared with first-quarter 2007 totals, according to the Railway Tie Association, which noted purchases reached the second-highest level since RTA began collecting data. In addition, first-quarter tie production rose 10 percent to 5.3 million units.
Last month, the Alameda Corridor logged the 100,000th train to use the high-speed freight-rail expressway since it opened in April 2002. The 20-mile corridor connects the ports of L.A. and Long Beach with downtown L.A. rail yards and the national rail system.
In March, BNSF Railway Co. loaded 23.9 million tons of coal in the Powder River Basin, setting a new monthly record. The previous high-water mark of 23.7 million tons was set in November 2007.
Last month, several transit agencies noted ridership spikes. The Twin Cities’ Metro Transit posted a 16.4 percent Hiawatha light-rail ridership gain in the first quarter compared with first-quarter 2007. Caltrain recorded an average weekday ridership high of 36,993 passengers, based on an annual passenger count taken each February at the agency’s 31 stations. Ridership rose 9.3 percent compared with the count taken in February 2007. And, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority posted ridership gains of 5 percent in January and 11 percent in February.