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9/20/2013


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
AAR data: U.S. railroads making traffic strides in September



U.S. railroads' traffic totals stood in good standing as of mid-September. For the week ending Sept. 14, they originated 296,221 carloads, up 1.5 percent, and 265,873 intermodal loads, up 4.9 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Total U.S. rail traffic rose 3.1 percent to 562,094 units. Seven of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by motor vehicles and parts (14.4 percent), and petroleum and petroleum products (also 14.4 percent). Grain traffic tumbled 9.8 percent and agricultural products volume fell 6 percent.

However, the outlook for the corn portion of railroads' ag products business — which accounts for about half of grain carloads and a quarter of ag carloads — is looking a bit rosier. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates" report shows corn production estimates have been raised by 80 million bushels, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"Total production is still expected to be 13.8 billion bushels, above the previous record high," they said. "Corn yield projections were also improved from last month."

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 85,729 carloads for the week ending Sept. 14, up 4.9 percent, and 58,693 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent year over year. Mexican railroads weekly carloads rose 6.3 percent to 15,018 units and intermodal volume climbed 7.5 percent to 12,129 units.

Through 2013's first 37 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 13,802,041 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 11,355,184 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

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