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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Short lines register carload gain through week No. 5, RMI index shows

Five weeks into 2008, regionals and short lines are ahead of last year's traffic pace — which wasn't much in the way of a brisk gait. Through Feb. 2, 311 reporting railroads handled 579,197 carloads, up 0.1 percent compared with the total from 2007's first five weeks, according to RMI's RailConnect Index of Short Line Traffic.

Ore traffic jumped 17.9 percent to 14,582 carloads, metals and products traffic rose 9.7 percent to 58,215 carloads, petroleum and coke traffic increased 8.7 percent to 29,128 carloads, and grain traffic went up 8.2 percent to 72,960 carloads. Regionals and short lines also posted gains in waste/scrap materials, chemical, farm/food product and stone/clay/aggregate traffic.

The segment registering the largest year-over-year drop — lumber and forest products — isn't a surprise given the weak housing market. The railroads handled 22,812 lumber and forest product carloads, down 21.4 percent.

Only five other segments recorded year-over-year declines: motor vehicles and equipment (down 13.4 percent to 7,764 units); paper products (down 12.2 percent to 38,833 units); intermodal (down 10.6 percent to 66,568 units); all other traffic (down 7.3 percent to 12,281 units); and coal (down 0.1 percent to 70,567 units).

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/21/2008