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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
AAR: Another plus for intermodal, minus for carloads on U.S. roads' ledger in November

U.S. railroads didn't change their traffic fortunes much in November. They originated 1,130,770 carloads, down 4 percent compared with November 2011 volume, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

But their intermodal traffic rose for the 36th straight month, climbing 1.2 percent to 934,595 units. In addition, carloads excluding coal (which tumbled 12.8 percent) and grain (which fell 10.7 percent) increased 5.5 percent.

"Coal and grain together account for almost half of non-intermodal U.S. rail traffic, so they are obviously very important to railroads. But … other commodity categories like autos, lumber, crushed stone, sand and gravel that are more highly correlated with economic growth have been growing, which we hope is a good sign for the economy moving forward," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement.

For the week ending Dec. 1, U.S. railroads reported 305,708 carloads, down 2 percent, and 241,411 intermodal loads, down 1.1 percent year over year.

Canadian railroads' weekly carloads dipped 0.7 percent to 78,774 units and intermodal volume declined 2 percent to 49,783 units, while Mexican railroads' weekly carloads rose 6.3 percent to 15,113 units and intermodal volume climbed 15.1 percent to 10,722 units.

Through 2012's first 48 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 17,999,168 carloads, down 1.9 percent, and 14,347,093 containers and trailers, up 4.3 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

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