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AAR: U.S. rail traffic volume slowed during Labor Day week

The Labor Day holiday is partly to blame for an 11.9 percent drop in U.S. railroads' traffic volume during the week ending Sept. 12, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

For the week, U.S. weekly traffic was 510,797 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week were 268,960 carloads, down 10.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 241,837 containers and trailers, down 13.3 percent compared to 2014.

The week ending Sep. 12 contained the Labor Day holiday, but the week it is being compared to in 2014 did not, AAR officials said in a press release.

Of the 10 carload commodity groups, one posted an increase during the week compared with the year-ago period: Grain rose 3.6 percent to 17,897 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 27.5 percent to 20,583 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.8 percent to 14,231 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 15.1 percent to 34,734 carloads.

For the first 36 weeks of the year, U.S. railroads logged cumulative volume of 10,019,235 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 9,572,991 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2015 was 19,592,226 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared to last year.

Canadian railroads' carload volume fell 11.9 percent to 72,320 carloads, while intermodal traffic declined 10.2 percent to 55,896 units for the week compared with a year ago. For the first 36 weeks of the year, Canadian railroads' reported cumulative volume of 4,964,680 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent, compared with the same period in 2014.

In Mexico, the week was a different story. Mexican railroads' volume increased 10.8 percent to 16,373 carloads for the week, and intermodal volume rose 8.9 percent to 13,182 units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 36 weeks of 2015 was 979,853 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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