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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. intermodal volume remains up, carload traffic remains down, AAR says

U.S. rail traffic continued to register mixed results in March’s third full week. During the week ending March 24, U.S. railroads originated 278,393 carloads, down 7.2 percent, and 232,401 intermodal loads, up 4.2 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Eight of 20 carload commodity groups posted declines, with coal volume down 17.4 percent and grain traffic down 14.2 percent. The biggest gainers were petroleum products (up 26.8 percent), coke (15.1 percent), and motor vehicles and equipment (13.8 percent). Automotive traffic remains solid, up 16 percent so far in the first quarter, helping to drive industrial carloads, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Rails note that milder weather has supported earlier-than-seasonal first-quarter shipping in some commodities,” such as aggregates, they said. “We will continue to monitor the pace of seasonal growth.”
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 77,841, up 0.4 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 51,772 containers and trailers, up 10.7 percent year over year. For the week ending March 24, Mexican railroads’ carloads inched up 1.7 percent to 14,145 units and intermodal traffic jumped 32 percent to 8,708 units.
Through 2012’s first 12 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 4,460,212 carloads, down 0.8 percent, and 3,371,611 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared with the year-ago period.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending March 24 and through 12 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/30/2012