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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. traffic drops in week No. 8, Iowa Pacific Holdings joins association

For the week ending Feb. 25, U.S. railroads originated 281,644 carloads, down 5 percent, and 214,402 intermodal loads, down 2.8 percent compared with volume from the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.
Only nine of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, including motor vehicles and equipment (30.9 percent), petroleum products (25.6 percent), and metals and products (19.4 percent). Coal volume fell 13.1 percent, grain loads dropped 11.9 percent and non-metallic mineral traffic declined 10.8 percent.

Mild winter weather is negatively affecting coal traffic, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report. In addition, elevated stockpiles and low natural gas prices are acting as headwinds to domestic coal consumption, they said.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 76,894 carloads for the week, up 7.4 percent, and 45,665 containers and trailers, down 2.6 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads fell 8.1 percent to 13,790 units, but their intermodal volume climbed 17.8 percent to 9,135 units.
Through 2012’s first eight weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 2,976,832 carloads, up 0.7 percent, and 2,231,052 containers and trailers, up 2.8 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

The AAR also announced that Iowa Pacific Holdings L.L.C. (IPH) has become its newest full member. IPH provides freight- and passenger-rail services in six states and the United Kingdom.
The company’s holdings include the Chicago Terminal Railway, Mount Hood Railroad, San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, Saratoga & North Creek Railway, Texas – New Mexico Railroad, and West Texas & Lubbock Railway. IPH also manages Central Car Repair and Isla Largo, which leases rolling stock, locomotives and track equipment. In the U.K., IPH operates British American Railway Services, which includes the Dartmoor Railway, Devon and Cornwall Railway, Weardale Railway and Rail Management Services Ltd.
IPH representatives have received seats on AAR’s two governing committees: the Safety and Operations Management Committee, and Policy and Advocacy Management Committee.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/2/2012