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Rail News: Intermodal

Carloads drop for U.S., Canadian roads in March's first week, AAR says


After posting traffic gains in January and February, U.S. railroads got off to a slow start in March. During the month's first full week ending March 8, the roads originated 323,323 carloads, down 2.3 percent, and 206,351 containers and trailers, down 15.1 percent compared with totals from the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data. The Chinese New Year reduced Asian-related container volume, the AAR said.

However, through 2008's first 10 weeks, U.S. railroads remained ahead of last year's carload pace. The roads originated 3.2 million carloads, up 1.3 percent. Intermodal loads totaling 2.2 million units in the period decreased 4.6 percent compared with volume from 2007's first 10 weeks, while total volume reached an estimated 329.6 billion ton-miles, representing a 2.5 percent year-over-year increase.

Canadian railroads had a bad week, too. During the period ending March 8, they originated 71,803 carloads, down 10.9 percent, and 42,546 containers and trailers, down 6.6 percent compared with totals from the same week last year. Through 10 weeks, Canadian railroads' total carloads declined 1.1 percent to 726,881 units, but intermodal volume increased 6.7 percent to 454,313 units vs. last year.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 10 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 3.9 million carloads, up 0.8 percent, and 2.6 million containers and trailers, down 2.8 percent compared with totals from the same 2007 period.