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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Carloads, intermodal volume remain down for North American roads in week No. 7, AAR says


Seven weeks into 2009, there’s still no sign of a traffic turnaround for U.S. railroads. During the week ending Feb. 21, their carloads totaling 278,827 units dropped 14.2 percent and intermodal volume totaling 168,194 units plunged 25.3 percent compared with totals from the same week in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Through the year’s first seven weeks, U.S. railroads originated 1.9 million carloads, down 15.9 percent, and 1.3 million containers and trailers, down 15 percent year over year. Total volume remained down 14.7 percent at an estimated 201.0 billion ton-miles.

There isn’t a hint of a turnaround for Canadian railroads, either. During the week ending Feb. 21, their carloads fell 13.7 percent to 64,053 units and intermodal volume declined 15.7 percent to 38,821 units compared with totals from the same week last year. Through seven weeks, Canadian railroads reported 437,089 carloads, down 18.2 percent, and 293,412 containers and trailers, down 10.9 percent year over year.

Mexico’s two largest railroads had an off week, as well. During the period ending Feb. 21, their originated carload volume decreased 1.3 percent to 12,175 units and intermodal volume dropped 1.2 percent to 5,923 units vs. totals from 2008’s seventh week. Through seven weeks, Mexican railroads reported 75,997 carloads, down 11.3 percent, and 33,778 containers and trailers, down 16.7 percent.

On a combined North American volume basis through seven weeks, 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 2.4 million carloads, down 16.2 percent, and 1.7 million containers and trailers, down 14.3 percent year over year.