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AAR: U.S. carload, intermodal traffic slips 4.3 percent in October

U.S. railroad carload and intermodal traffic volumes were down in October, a reflection of a slowdown in manufacturing and energy sectors, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal traffic in October totaled 2,213,780 originations, a decrease of 4.3 percent compared with October 2014. Carloads last month declined 6.9 percent to 1,124,470, and intermodal containers and trailers fell 1.4 percent to 1,089,310, compared with a year ago, AAR reported.

Carload commodities that logged declines during October 2015 compared with October 2014 included coal, down 13.3 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, down 18.6 percent; and metallic ores, down 27.9 percent. Excluding coal, carloads were down 3.1 percent, or 23,787 carloads, in October compared with a year ago.

Commodities that posted increases increases during the month included grain, up 12.9 percent; miscellaneous, up 27.3 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, up 6.7 percent.

"The decline in rail traffic in October is consistent with the view that a divide has opened up between the service sector, which appears to be fairly robust in many respects, and manufacturing, which appears to be facing increasingly strong headwinds, including international turmoil and slowdowns in the energy sector," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of the year was 12,005,156 carloads, down 4.6 percent, while intermodal containers and trailers were 11,506,577 units, up 2.1 percent when compared to the same period in 2014.

For the week ending Oct 31, U.S. traffic was down in both carload and intermodal categories. U.S. railroads logged 279,327 carloads, down 8.5 percent, and 270,380 containers and trailers, down 3.4 percent, compared to the same week in 2014.

Canadian reported 78,028 carloads for the week, down 10.4 percent, and 63,344 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. Mexican railroads posted 15,116 carloads for the week, down 7.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,788 intermodal units, down 11.1 percent.

The AAR also reported that U.S. Class Is originated 101,167 carloads of crude oil in third-quarter 2015, down 9,901 carloads, or 8.9 percent, from second-quarter 2015. Crude-oil carloads declined 23.5 percent in third-quarter 2015 compared with the same period in 2014.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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