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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR July data: Another month, another carload decline for U.S. railroads


U.S. railroads continued a streak in July that they’d sooner break. For the seventh-straight month in 2007, the roads moved fewer carloads compared with last year.

U.S. railroads originated 1.3 million carloads, down 3 percent compared with July 2006, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Intermodal traffic fell, too, decreasing 2.6 percent to 913,590 units.

During 2007’s first seven months, U.S. roads originated 9.7 million carloads, down 3.9 percent, and 6.9 million trailers and containers, down 2.7 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Estimated volume totaled 988.5 billion ton-miles, representing a 2.7 percent decline.

But there’s a sign U.S. railroads’ traffic fortunes might turn soon.

“Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that preliminary GDP growth in the second quarter was 3.4 percent, up from 0.6 percent in the first quarter,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. “This is a hopeful signal of a return to more solid growth and a corresponding increase in demand for rail service.”

Canadian railroads already are posting traffic gains. In July, the roads originated 301,846 carloads, up 0.6 percent, and 191,047 intermodal loads, up 5.4 percent compared with July 2006.

Through seven months, Canadian railroads’ originated carloads decreased slightly (by 0.5 percent) to 2.3 million units, but intermodal loads rose 2.1 percent to 1.4 million units compared with the same 2006 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through seven months, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 12 million carloads, down 3.3 percent, and 8.2 million containers and trailers, down 0.9 percent compared with last year.

Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. also registered traffic gains in July. Total carloads carried rose 2.1 percent to 41,610 units and intermodal volume jumped 28.3 percent to 17,768 units compared with July 2006. Through seven months, total carloads carried declined 3.9 percent while intermodal units carried increased 12.5 percent year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/3/2007