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10/8/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Month, quarter, year-to-date AAR figures detail U.S. freight-traffic decay


Another month and quarter gone by, more dismal U.S. freight-traffic news. American roads recorded 33,440 fewer carloads (2.4 percent) in September and 112,045 fewer carloads (2.5 percent) in the third quarter compared with the same 2000 periods, according to Association of American Railroads data released Oct. 4.

Meanwhile, U.S. intermodal traffic dropped 1.7 percent (12,860 trailers and containers) in September and 2.3 percent (52,826 trailers and containers) in the third quarter.

"Except for small gains in March and April, U.S. rail traffic has been down each month this year," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "Still, we're hopeful that the aggressive action by Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates, combined with the economic stimulus plan being crafted by our nation's political leadership, will lead to a quick and sustained turnaround."

The story isn't much better through 2001's first nine months: U.S. railroads recorded 12,953,058 carloads and 6,672,497 trailers and containers — 195,040 and 188,143 fewer, respectively, compared with 2000's first nine months.

As for Canadian roads, carloads declined 4.5 percent (11,572) in September, 2.4 percent (18,768) in the third quarter and 1.9 percent (45,651) through nine months compared with similar 2000 periods.

However, Canadian intermodal traffic rose 1.2 percent (1,763 trailers and containers) last month, 0.7 percent (3,144) in the third quarter and 2.2 percent (29,350) through 2001's first 39 weeks.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads through 39 weeks totaled 15,358,291 carloads, a 1.5 percent (240,691 carloads) drop, and 8,039,674 trailers and containers, a 1.9 percent decline (158,793 trailers and containers), compared with 2000's first 39 weeks.

Meanwhile, AAR recently added Mexico's Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana S.A. de C.V. to its weekly traffic data, and reports that TFM in September handled 37,313 carloads, and 12,793 trailers and containers — originating 23,330 carloads, and 9,594 trailers and containers.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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