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Intermodal traffic continues to carry the load for U.S. rail-traffic growth. Carloads for U.S. railroads in the week ending May 2 fell 4.8 percent to 283,091 units, while intermodal volume rose 5.7 precent to 282,696 containers and trailers compared with the same week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported yesterday.Six of 10 carload commodity groups logged increases compared with the same week in 2014: miscellaneous carloads, up 7.9 percent to 9,055 carloads; farm products and food, up 2.6 percent to 17,060; and chemicals, up 2.1 percent to 32,011. Commodity groups that posted decreases included grain, down 12.6 percent to 18,437 carloads, and coal, down 9.6 percent to 101,495 carloads.Canadian railroads reported 80,262 carloads for the week, down 6 percent, and 63,460 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014. Mexican railroads posted 15,239 carloads for the week, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,679 intermodal units, up 3 percent.For the first four months of 2015, U.S. rail traffic totaled 9,172,038 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.01 percent, or 1,221 units, from the same point last year. Canadian railroads' cumulative traffic volume for the first 17 weeks reached 2,341,497 carloads and intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with the year-ago period; and Mexican railroads' cumulative volume was 448,299 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent.
In April, U.S. railroads logged 1,403,044 carloads, down 5.3 percent, and 1,383,314 intermodal loads, up 5.1 percent compared with April 2014 totals. Combined traffic dipped 0.4 percent to 2,786,358 units.
"The federal government recently announced that its initial estimate of first-quarter GDP growth was just 0.2 percent. Based on rail traffic in April, we aren’t seeing a surge in economic activity to start the second quarter,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release. “Railroad coal traffic is suffering from reduced electricity generation from coal and lower coal exports, while rail volumes for a number of other commodities are down due to general economic weakness. We hope that turns around. Intermodal, on the other hand, is doing very well, as large intermodal-related investments and service improvements are paying off with record volumes.”