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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR weekly data: U.S. roads move most carloads, second-most intermodal loads in '07


U.S. railroads haven’t quite begun the traffic rebound they’re projecting for the year’s second half, but they did have one of their best weeks so far in ’07.

During the year’s 24th week ending June 16, the roads originated 339,670 carloads, the highest weekly total in 2007, yet still down 1.8 percent compared with the same 2006 week, according to Association of American Railroads data. Intermodal volume totaling 240,002 units — 2007’s second-highest weekly total — dropped 2.3 percent year over year.

“Weak freight demand and excess truckload supply is driving softness in trailers on flat cars [and] port volume growth has been slowing a bit, limiting container-on-flat-car gains,” said Bank of America Securities analyst Scott Flower in the firm’s weekly traffic report. “With energy prices elevated and retailers seeing lukewarm demand, truckload and intermodal demand trends may not improve much in the near term.”

During 2007’s first 24 weeks, U.S. railroads originated 7.8 million carloads, down 4.3 percent, and 5.5 million trailers and containers, down 1.3 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Estimated volume totaled 789.4 billion ton-miles, representing a 3 percent year-over-year decline.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads might have already turned the proverbial corner. During the week ending June 16, the roads’ carloads totaling 81,230 units increased 3.7 percent and intermodal volume totaling 47,441 units rose 1.8 percent compared with the same 2006 week. Through 24 weeks, the railroads’ carloads totaling 1.9 million units decreased 0.8 percent, but intermodal loads totaling 1.1 million units rose 1.3 percent.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 24 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 9.6 million carloads, down 3.6 percent, and 6.6 million trailers and containers, down 0.9 percent compared with last year.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. posted mixed traffic results last week. During the period ending June 16, the railroad’s carloads carried totaling 10,258 units fell 14.1 percent but intermodal volume totaling 4,875 units increased 1.3 percent compared with the same 2006 week. Through 24 weeks, the road carried a total of 260,228 cars, down 5 percent, and 103,563 trailers and containers, up 10.8 percent year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/22/2007