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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR data shows U.S. railroads remain behind last year's carload, intermodal volume pace


Two weeks into 2007’s second half, there weren’t any signs that U.S railroads’ traffic fortunes might be reversing.

During the week ending July 14, the roads originated 310,769 carloads, down 5.5 percent, and 238,625 trailers and containers, down 3 percent compared with the same 2006 period, according to Association of American Railroads data.

“Bulk traffic volume fell a sharp 5.4 percent [and] merchandise traffic fell 5 percent. Eastern carriers have noted utility stockpiles remain close to target levels, which suggests warmer than usual summer weather may be necessary to drive volume improvement,” said Bank of America Securities analyst Scott Flower in the firm’s weekly rail traffic report. “Comparisons will get easier as we move through the third quarter, although rails largely are not expecting much of a rebound near-term.”

During the year’s first 28 weeks, U.S. railroads originated 9 million carloads, down 4.1 percent, and 6.4 million intermodal loads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Estimated volume totaled 920.0 billion ton-miles, representing a 2.9 percent decline.

Canadian railroads had a better week. During the period ending July 14, their originated carloads decreased only 0.8 percent to 73,699 units and intermodal volume rose 4.3 percent to 48,706 units compared with the same 2006 week.

Through 28 weeks, the roads originated 2 million carloads, down 0.7 percent, and 1.3 million trailers and containers, up 1.8 percent year over year.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 28 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads moved 11.2 million carloads, a 3.5 percent decline, and 7.7 million intermodal loads, a 0.8 percent decrease compared with last year.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. had the best week. During the period ending July 14, the road carried a total of 10,735 cars, up 18.2 percent, and registered intermodal volume of 3,986 units, up 27.8 percent compared with the same 2006 week. Through 28 weeks, the railroad’s cumulative carload volume of 304,186 units decreased 4.2 percent but total intermodal volume of 120,499 units jumped 11.1 percent year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/23/2007