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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

North American small roads continue to move more carloads, RMI says

During 2005’s first three quarters, North American regionals and short lines increased carloads 7.1 percent compared with the same 2004 period, according to RMI’s RailConnect Index® Quarterly Analysis of Traffic Statistics.

About 85 percent of the traffic increase is attributed to three traffic segments: Intermodal (up 25.6 percent); stone, clay and aggregates (up 15.3 percent); and chemicals (up 9.0 percent). Only motor vehicle, coal and “other” traffic — which account for less than 1 percent of all carloads — fell during the period.

Short-line traffic during the fourth quarter looks equally promising, the report states. Coal volumes will increase because of rising natural gas prices, declining stockpiles and increasing Powder River Basin traffic; chemical business will continue to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and building material moves will rise as southeastern communities continue to rebuild.

“[Although] grain traffic remains surprisingly slow, railroads are hoping for a better fourth-quarter result,” said RMI Chairman Pete Kleifgen in a prepared statement.

RMI compiles traffic data for the RailConnect Index from about 225 North American regional, short line and terminal switching railroads. Each month, Progressive Railroading publishes the RailConnect Index of Short-Line Traffic — which provides year-to-date carload data — in the “Trends” section.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/13/2005