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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR: Carloads up, intermodal volume down for U.S. railroads in July


Although their intermodal volume declined in July — as it has each month so far this year — carload traffic increased for U.S. railroads. They originated 1.6 million carloads, up 1.1 percent compared with July 2007's total, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Grain traffic rose 7.2 percent to 119,455 carloads, coal traffic increased 4.3 percent to 697,055 carloads and chemical traffic went up 4.1 percent to 156,871 carloads. Among the few commodities posting declines, coke traffic fell 29.7 percent to 19,744 units, motor vehicle/equipment traffic dropped 22.2 percent to 60,454 units and lumber/wood product traffic tumbled 17.1 percent to 18,182 units.

Intermodal volume totaled 1.1 million units, down 2.2 percent compared with July 2007's total.

"All things considered — including a continued weak economy and residual effects from the devastating floods in the Midwest in June — the increase in U.S. rail traffic in July was gratifying," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement.

During 2008's first seven months, U.S. railroads originated 10 million carloads, up 0.4 percent, and 6.9 million containers and trailers, down 3.1 percent compared with totals from the same 2007 period. Total volume reached an estimated 1.04 trillion ton-miles, representing a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase.

Canadian railroads posted opposite results in July. Their carloads totaling 362,163 units declined 4.4 percent but intermodal volume totaling 248,147 units rose 4.2 percent compared with July 2007's totals. Through seven months, Canadian roads originated 2.3 million carloads, down 4.1 percent, and 1.5 million intermodal loads, up 4.3 percent vs. last year's figures

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 2008's first 31 weeks, 12 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads registered drops in both carload and intermodal volume. Carloads totaling 12.3 million units fell 0.5 percent and intermodal loads totaling 8.4 million units declined 1.8 percent year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/8/2008