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AAR: Intermodal up, carloads down trend continued for U.S. roads in January

In January, U.S. railroads originated 1,339,604 carloads, down 6.3 percent, and 1,168,630 containers and trailers, up 5.3 percent compared with January 2012 figures, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Only six of 20 commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum and petroleum products (54.1 percent), lumber and wood products (14.6 percent), and crushed stone, gravel and sand (6.1 percent). Iron and steel scrap loads dropped 18.7 percent, coal volume fell 14.5 percent and grain traffic declined 11 percent. Excluding coal and grain, January carloads rose 1.8 percent, AAR officials said in a traffic summary.

"The new year brought a continuation of an old pattern: weakness in coal, strength in intermodal and petroleum products, and mixed results for everything else," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray.

For the week ending Feb. 2, U.S. railroads originated 274,700 carloads, down 3.4 percent, and 249,231 containers and trailers, up 7.2 percent year over year. Eight of 20 carload commodity groups registered increases.

Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 75,178 units, down 2.6 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 49,713 units, down 2.9 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 16.2 percent to 15,434 units and their intermodal volume ratcheted up 1.1 percent to 9,842 units.

Through 2013's first five weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 1,780,547 carloads, down 4.3 percent, and 1,463,400 containers and trailers, up 5.1 percent compared with volumes from the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/8/2013