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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR: U.S. railroads' weekly carloads continue to lag last year's pace


U.S. railroads’ traffic remained in the red last week. During the period ending Aug. 11, originated carloads decreased 2.2 percent to 328,821 units and intermodal volume dropped 5.1 percent to 237,298 units compared with the same 2006 period, according to Association of American Railroads data.

Through 2007’s first 32 weeks, U.S. roads’ originated carloads totaled 10.3 million, down 3.7 percent, and intermodal volume totaled 7.3 million units, down 1.6 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Total estimated volume of 1.06 trillion ton-miles represented a 2.5 percent decline.

“We think soft freight demand, a weak housing market and uneven economic growth are mostly to blame for current volume softness, although significant rail pricing increases over the last several quarters may also be running off some traffic at the margins,” said analyst Scott Flower in Bank of America Securities’ rail traffic report for week No. 32.

In Canada, weekly carload traffic declined 2.4 percent to 74,341 units while intermodal volume increased 6.4 percent to 47,564 units compared with last year. Through 32 weeks, Canadian railroads originated 2.5 million carloads, down 0.6 percent, and 1.5 million trailers and containers, up 2.4 percent compared with the same 2006 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 32 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads registered 12.8 million carloads, down 3.2 percent, and 8.8 million intermodal loads, down 0.9 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, during the week ending Aug. 11, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. carried a total of 10,829 cars, down 5.6 percent, and handled a total of 5,361 intermodal loads, up 26 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Through 32 weeks, the railroad’s cumulative carload volume dropped 3.9 percent to 346,170 units and intermodal volume jumped 13.7 percent to 140,992 units compared with last year.