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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Week No. 7 carloads fell in U.S. and Mexico, climbed in Canada


In the week ending Feb. 18, U.S. railroads originated 281,989 carloads, down 5.2 percent, and 221,003 containers and trailers, down 5.6 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.
Although 12 of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains — led by petroleum products (25.9 percent), lumber and wood products (22.9 percent), and motor vehicles and equipment (11.7 percent) — coal carloads fell 13.9 percent and farm products excluding grain dropped 13.4 percent.

The weekly traffic figures were up against “robust” 2011 comparisons, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report. Through 2012’s first seven weeks, U.S. volume growth of about 2 percent has been supported by solid industrial and intermodal loads, which for the most part have helped offset weakness in agricultural products and coal, they said.

“Recovering industrial end markets and secular drivers (i.e., intermodal, energy) should support slow growth,” Baird analysts said. “Mild winter weather has improved service metrics but tempered coal consumption.”
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 78,411, up 6.6 percent, and intermodal loads totaling 51,060, up 9.4 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads dipped 2 percent to 14,203 units, but their intermodal volume climbed 18.4 percent to 10,301 units.
Through seven weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 2.6 million carloads, up 1.2 percent, and nearly 2 million containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

For more AAR traffic data concerning the week ending Feb. 18 and through seven weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/24/2012