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4/23/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR weekly report: Carloads up, intermodal volume down for U.S. roads



Carload freight was up but intermodal volume was down on U.S. railroads during the week ended April 14, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported last week. (Note: The comparison week from last year included Good Friday, which is a holiday on most U.S. railroads.)

For the week ended April 14, carload freight totaled 338,550 cars, a 0.5 percent increase from the carloads recorded during the same 2006 period in 2006. Loadings were up 1.5 percent in the West but down 0.6 percent in the East. Total volume was 34.6 billion ton-miles, up 2.4 percent from the volume recorded during the same period last year, AAR estimates.

Eight of 19 carload commodity groups registered gains, with petroleum products up 16.4 percent, chemicals up 9.2 percent and coal up 3.5 percent. Loadings of lumber and wood products were down 15 percent; primary forest products, 14.5 percent; and metallic ores, 12.8 percent.

Meanwhile, weekly intermodal volume totaled 223,126 trailers or containers — a 3.6 percent decline compared with volume recorded during the same period a year earlier. Container volume was off 0.6 percent; trailer volume, 13.2 percent.

For the first 15 weeks of 2007, U.S. railroads hauled 4,783,604 carloads, a 4.5 percent dip compared with the loads carried during the similar 2006 period; 3,381,157 trailers or containers, a 0.5 percent decrease; and total volume of an estimated 486.6 billion ton-miles, a 3.1 percent drop-off.

Canadian railroads had a better week. Carload traffic totaled 83,618 cars during the week ended April 14, a 9.4 percent increase compared with the same 2006 period, and intermodal volume totaled 47,188 trailers or containers — a 5.1 percent increase.

For the first 15 weeks of 2007, Canadian railroads’ cumulative originations totaled 1,146,402 carloads, a 1.7 percent decline compared with originations recorded during the same 2006 period. Canadian railroads moved 661,568 trailers and containers, a modest 1.5 percent increase.

Overall, U.S. and Canadian railroads are still behind last year’s traffic pace. For the year’s first 15 weeks, combined cumulative volume on U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 5,930,006 carloads, a 4 percent decrease compared with totals recorded during the same period last year. Railroads hauled 4,042,725 trailers and containers, a 0.2 percent decline.

And for the only Mexican railroad that reports traffic totals to the AAR: Kansas City Southern de México S. de R.L. de C.V. (KCSM) carried carloads of 10,836 cars during the week ended April 14, a 0.5 percent increase compared with carloads carried during the same 2006 period. KCSM posted intermodal volume of 4,008 trailers or containers, a 34 percent increase.

For the first 15 weeks of 2007, KCSM reported cumulative volume of 160,693 cars, a 5.4 percent decline compared with volume from the same period last year, and 61,638 trailers or containers, a 9.5 percent increase.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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