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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR's Rail Time Indicators report: U.S. carloads, intermodal loads climbed in August


In August, U.S. rail carloads rose 5.7 percent compared with August 2009’s total but declined 11.6 percent compared with August 2008’s level, according to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Rail Time Indicators report for September. August’s weekly average of 294,862 carloads climbed to the highest level since November 2008.

Meanwhile, intermodal traffic in August jumped 19.7 percent vs. August 2009 and dipped slightly (by 0.3 percent) vs. August 2008.

“It is very difficult right now for anyone to forecast the economy’s path. We also know from experience that things can change very quickly,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement. “That said, there is little in last month’s rail traffic data that would indicate economic recovery has stalled. While a faster recovery path would be attractive to railroads and our customers, the data so far show a slow measured recovery is probably continuing.”
The Rail Time Indicators report also shows that, per seasonally-adjusted data for August, carloads decreased 1.6 percent and intermodal inched up 0.6 percent from July levels. On an unadjusted basis, carloads posted gains in 16 of 19 commodity groups.
In addition, the report states that during July — the most recent period for company employment data — U.S. railroads added 1,519 people to their rolls. And in August, railroads brought 10,759 rail cars out of storage, leaving 348,712 cars — or about 22.7 percent of the North American fleet — still in mothballs.