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Rail News: Intermodal

U.S. railroads break freight volume, intermodal traffic records in 2006


U.S. railroads’ traffic fortunes in 2006 can best be summed up this way: record-breaking. The roads moved an all-time-high 12.3 million intermodal loads, up 5 percent, and handled record freight volume of 1.74 trillion ton-miles, up 2.5 percent compared with 2005, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data. The railroads set the previous records of 11.7 million intermodal loads and 1.69 trillion ton-miles in 2005.

U.S. roads also originated 17.4 million carloads, a 1.2 percent increase compared with 2005 data. Coal and grain traffic increased 4.7 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively; chemical traffic decreased 1.1 percent.

“Because of record-high traffic levels, capacity expansion will be a key issue in 2007,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

In December, U.S. roads originated 1.3 million carloads, up 2.4 percent, and 889,172 intermodal loads, up 1.8 percent compared with similar 2005 data. During the fourth quarter, the railroads boosted carloads 0.9 percent to 4.2 million units and increased intermodal loads 1.4 percent to 3.1 million units.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads’ originated carloads decreased 1.9 percent to 3.8 million units last year while intermodal volume rose 5.1 percent to 2.4 million units compared with 2005 data. Originated carloads dropped 4.2 percent in December to 268,234 units and fell 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter to 934,528 units; intermodal loads increased 4.8 percent in December to 167,529 units and rose 3.1 percent in the quarter to 595,083 units.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis in 2006, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 21.2 million carloads, up 0.7 percent, and 14.6 million trailers and containers, up 5 percent compared with 2005 data.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V.’s carloads carried totaling 592,025 units decreased 2.5 percent in 2006 while total intermodal traffic totaling 212,420 units increased 0.2 percent compared with 2005 data. December carloads totaling 44,754 units rose 4.9 percent and intermodal loads totaling 15,604 units increased 15.2 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/5/2007