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Rail News: Intermodal

U.S. roads register more carloads, fewer intermodal loads in April, AAR says

U.S. railroads' traffic report for April sums up the teeter-totter they've been on the past few months: carloads up, intermodal volume down. In April, the roads increased carloads 0.9 percent to 1.7 million units but registered a 2.1 percent decline in intermodal loads to 1.1 million units compared with April 2007's totals, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

The railroads posted gains in grain (20.6 percent), coal (5.3 percent) and chemicals (2.9 percent), and declines in coke (35.7 percent), vehicles and equipment (19.5 percent), and crushed stone, sand, and gravel (6 percent).

"The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported preliminary first quarter 2008 GDP growth was 0.6 percent. That's pretty low, of course, but it actually exceeded what some economists were predicting," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement. "The fact that rail carload traffic was up in April is another indication that our economic situation, while still difficult, might not be as dire as some had thought."

During 2008's first four months, U.S. railroads originated 5.8 million carloads, up 1.1 percent, and 3.9 million containers and trailers, down 3.5 percent year over year. Total volume reached an estimated 604.4 billion ton-miles, climbing 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads in April originated 381,031 carloads, down 6.2 percent, and 246,564 intermodal loads, up 3.5 percent compared with April 2007's totals. Through four months, their carloads dropped 3.6 percent to 1.3 million units and intermodal volume climbed 4.4 percent to 840,488 units.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 18 weeks, 12 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 7.2 million carloads, up 0.2 percent, and 4.8 million containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/12/2008