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AAR: August a record-breaking month for intermodal traffic

U.S. railroads set an intermodal traffic record in August and registered a slight carload gain, as well, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Intermodal traffic totaled 1,031,179 trailers and containers, a 4.4 percent increase compared with August 2012. The weekly average of 257,795 units was the highest for any month in history, AAR said. Meanwhile, railroads originated 1,178,619 carloads in August, a 0.5 percent increase compared with the same month last year.

Twelve of 20 commodity groups registered year-over-year increases, including petroleum and petroleum products, up 18.5 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 9.3 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 7.7 percent; stone, clay and glass products, up 10.1 percent; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 24 percent. However, coal and grain carloads dipped 2 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

"In terms of average weekly volumes, August was the best intermodal month in history for both U.S. and Canadian railroads," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement. "Because the fall is typically the peak season for intermodal traffic, it wouldn't be surprising to see new records set in September and October."

For the week ending Aug. 31, U.S. railroads originated 302,026 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume totaled 259,672 units, up 4.2 percent.

Canadian railroads also reported traffic gains, originating 81,199 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent, and 56,562 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same 2012 week.

In Mexico, carload traffic jumped 13.6 percent to 16,725 units and intermodal traffic rose 0.4 percent to 11,272 units.

Through 2013's first 35 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 13,041,358 carloads, down 0.2 percent, and 10,726,557 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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