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Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends

8/5/2011



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. carloads declined in July's last week, remained down for entire month


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After inching up in the year’s 29th week, U.S. carloads fell again in week No. 30. During the week ending July 30, carloads dropped 2 percent to 292,812 compared with volume from the same 2010 period, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). However, intermodal volume rose 3.3 percent to 240,525 units.

Only 11 of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by iron and steel scrap (up 40.1 percent), metallic ores (21.2 percent), and lumber and wood products (18.3 percent). Coal volume declined 6 percent last week and remained down 2 percent in the second quarter. But weekly Energy Information Administration coal production estimates show producers have begun to ramp production back up following flood disruptions, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are more bullish on second-half domestic coal opportunities with pent-up demand due to weather, flooding disruptions and below-target coal stockpiles at Powder River Basin-served utilities,” they said.

The AAR also released U.S. traffic data for July: carloads dipped 1 percent to 1.1 million units and intermodal volume rose 1.3 percent to 895,649 containers and trailers compared with July 2010 figures. Eight of 20 carload commodity categories registered declines, with coal posting the largest year-over-year drop at 7.3 percent. Excluding coal, U.S. carloads increased 4.3 percent in July.
 
The AAR also reported that in June, U.S. railroads “continued to add employees at a rate faster than most U.S. industries” by employing 1,818 new workers. In addition, freight cars in storage as of Aug. 1 reached 276,943, up 707 cars from the level on July 1, the association said.

Meanwhile, for the year’s 30th week, Canadian railroads reported 78,178 carloads, up 5.8 percent, and 51,587 containers and trailers, up 0.8 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads climbed 9.9 percent to 15,723 and intermodal volume ballooned 35.5 percent to 9,281 units.
 
Through 2011’s first 30 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 11.3 million carloads, up 2.4 percent, and 8.4 million intermodal loads, up 6.5 percent compared with volumes from the same 2010 period.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending July 30, month of July and first 30 weeks, follow this link.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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