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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR announces more weekly traffic gains, adds Alaska Railroad as member


U.S. rail traffic continued to climb in late November. During the week ending Nov. 26, U.S railroads originated 265,304 carloads, up 4 percent, and 190,866 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Ten of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by motor vehicles and equipment (42 percent), crushed stone, sand and gravel (30.3 percent), and petroleum products (28.4 percent). Farm products traffic excluding grain fell 18.1 percent, waste and nonferrous scrap carloads tumbled 10.8 percent, and agricultural products volume dipped 1 percent.

The ag sector continued to show weakness, but volume has been tracking a bit better in the fourth quarter than it was in the third quarter, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.’s weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Drought conditions contributed to a weak harvest, and some industry reports have noted poor condition of winter crops,” Baird analysts said in the report.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 74,736, up 10.6 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 48,037 units, up 5.7 percent year over year. During the week ending Nov. 26, Mexican railroads boosted carloads 11.6 percent to 13,170 units and increased intermodal volume 3.7 percent to 8,601 units.
Through 2011’s first 47 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 17.9 million carloads, up 2.1 percent, and 13.4 million containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared with traffic figures from the same 2010 period.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending Nov. 26 and through 47 weeks, follow this link.

The AAR also announced yesterday that the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) has become the association’s newest full member. Established in 1914 and owned by the state of Alaska, ARRC manages 651 miles of track. The railroad transports more than 400,000 passengers and hauls more than 6 million tons of freight annually.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/2/2011