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Rail News: Intermodal

Thanksgiving holiday holds key to U.S. roads' weekly traffic gains, AAR says


It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but U.S. railroads boosted traffic in the week ending Nov. 22 vs. the total from the same week last year, which included Thanksgiving. The roads originated 309,109 carloads, up 6.6 percent, and 220,314 intermodal loads, up 15.1 percent, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

“The comparisons between the two weeks are distorted by the fact that the year ago week included the Thanksgiving holiday,” the AAR said in its weekly traffic report.

During 2008’s first 47 weeks, U.S. railroads originated 15.2 million carloads, down 0.8 percent, and 10.6 million containers and trailers, down 2.9 percent compared with totals from the same 2007 period. Total volume reached an estimated 1.59 trillion ton-miles, up 0.3 percent.

Canadian railroads didn’t have a national holiday affect their year-over-year comparisons. As a result, during the week ending Nov. 22, their carloads decreased 8 percent to 72,246 units and intermodal volume fell 5.7 percent to 46,516 units. Through 47 weeks, Canadian railroads’ carloads remained down 5.1 percent (at 3.5 million units) and intermodal volume remained up 2.8 percent (at 2.3 million units).

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 47 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 18.7 million carloads, down 1.6 percent, and 12.9 million containers and trailers, down 2 percent vs. totals from the same 2007 period.

Meanwhile, weekly traffic totals from Mexico’s two largest railroads shows Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V.’s (KCSM) total carloads decreased 14.9 percent to 9,345 units and intermodal volume dropped 10.2 percent to 4,751 units, while Ferrocarril Mexicano S.A. de C.V.’s (Ferromex) carloads jumped 37.6 percent5 to 11,641 units and intermodal volume soared 49.9 percent to 2,585 units compared with totals from 2007’s 47th week.

Year to date, KCSM’s carloads declined 6.6 percent to 479,315 units and Ferromex’s rose 3.4 percent to 585,579 units; KCSM’s intermodal volume increased 8.3 percent to 238,738 units and Ferromex’s inched up 0.4 percent to 136,064 units.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/1/2008