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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

IANA, AAR note slight nudge in intermodal loads

In the third quarter, the U.S. economy showed hints of a slow recovery, and so did North American intermodal volume. Total volume clocked in at just under 3 million units, a 16.4 percent decline compared with third-quarter 2008’s total, but a slight improvement vs. volume’s 18.7 percent year-over-year drop in the second quarter, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s (IANA) latest “Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics” report.

Domestic container volume, which rose 1.3 percent to 1 million units, increased in every U.S. region. The segment’s advances “were entirely in 53-foot equipment, which jumped 5.5 percent,” IANA states in the report. However, all domestic equipment totaled 1.4 million units, down 7.7 percent, and trailers totaled 395,308 units, down 25.1 percent.
International equipment volumes tumbled 23 percent to 1.6 million units, registering a more than 20 percent drop for the ninth-straight quarter.

“Encouragingly, the rate of decline decelerated in every month of the quarter, with September’s result only 20 percent,” the report states.

Meanwhile, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that the latest weekly traffic figures show an incremental increase in U.S. intermodal volume. During the week ending Nov. 7, U.S. railroads originated 206,890 containers and trailers, down 9.5 percent compared with volume from the same 2008 period, but up slightly vs. the previous week. However, the roads’ carloads dropped 12.2 percent year over year to 274,846 units.

For the week ending Nov. 7, Canadian railroads reported 71,619 carloads, down 3.6 percent, and 42,987 intermodal loads, down 10 percent, while Mexican railroads reported 11,418 carloads, down 10.1 percent, and 6,643 intermodal loads, down 2.5 percent.

For more AAR data on North American railroads' traffic for the week ending Nov. 7 and through 2009’s first 44 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/13/2009