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Rail News: Intermodal

AAR's April scorecard: Carloads up for Canadian railroads, down for U.S. roads


One-third of the way through 2007, U.S. railroads’ traffic fortunes haven’t begun to reverse. In April, the roads’ originated carloads decreased 2.2 percent to 1.3 million units and intermodal loads declined 4.2 percent to 908,139 units compared with April 2006, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Although the railroads posted gains in petroleum product (8.4 percent) and chemical (2.5 percent) carloads, they registered significant drops in metals and metal product (8.1 percent), crushed stone, sand and gravel (7.5 percent) and grain (6.9 percent) traffic.

“A few days ago, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported preliminary first quarter Gross Domestic product growth of 1.3 percent,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. “That tepid level of growth is generally consistent with what we’re seeing in many rail commodity groups.”

During 2007’s first four months, U.S. railroads originated 5.4 million carloads, down 4.2 percent, and 3.8 million intermodal loads, down 0.9 percent compared with the same 2006 period. Total estimated volume of 554.4 billion ton-miles decreased 2.9 percent.

Canadian railroads fared better in April. Originated carloads totaling 322,613 units increased 0.3 percent and intermodal loads totaling 189,938 units rose 1.8 percent compared with April 2006. Through four months, the railroads’ carloads decreased 2 percent to 1.3 million units, but intermodal traffic increased 1.4 percent to 757,944 units.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 17 weeks, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 6.8 million carloads, down 3.8 percent, and 4.6 million trailers and containers, down 0.5 percent compared with the same 2006 period.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S. de R.L. de C.V. reported mixed traffic results for April. The railroad’s carloads carried totaling 43,922 units decreased 2.2 percent while intermodal units carried totaling 16,461 units rose 19.3 percent compared with April 2006. Through four months, the road’s total carloads declined 4.7 percent to 183,658 units and total intermodal units increased 11.1 percent to 70,624.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/4/2007