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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR: Eight months into 2007, U.S. roads' traffic volume still trails 2006


U.S. railroads’ traffic totals in August weren’t encouraging. The roads originated 1.7 million carloads, down 1 percent, and 1.2 million trailers and containers, down 4.2 percent compared with traffic in August 2006, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Although carloads of coke, grain and chemicals increased 20 percent, 5.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, 11 other commodities posted declines, including metallic ores (12.1 percent), pulp and paper products (11.1 percent), and metals and metal products (10.9 percent).

However, there’s at least one sign that railroads’ traffic fortunes could turn in the third quarter.

“Last week’s announced preliminary GDP figure of 3.4 percent for the second quarter of 2007, up from 0.6 percent during the first quarter, is a hopeful signal of a return to a more solid [economic] expansion” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

During 2007’s first eight months, U.S. railroads originated 11.4 million carloads, down 3.5 percent, and 8 million intermodal loads, down 1.9 percent compared with traffic from the same 2006 period.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads in August originated 385,532 carloads, a 3.3 percent decline compared with August 2006 carloadings. However, intermodal volume totaling 244,997 units increased 5.8 percent year over year.

Through eight months, the railroads’ originated carloads fell 0.9 percent to 2.7 million units and intermodal volume rose 2.7 percent to 1.6 million units compared with traffic from 2006’s first eight months.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through eight months, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 14 million carloads, down 3 percent, and 9.7 million containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent compared with data from the same period last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/7/2007