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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR on week No. 15: U.S. carloads still down, Canadian carloads remain up

U.S. carloadings continue to trail last year’s pace. During the week ending April 14, U.S. railroads originated 276,789 carloads, down 6.4 percent compared with the same 2011 period, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Conversely, intermodal loads continued to grow last week, rising 1.6 percent to 234,157 units.
Although petroleum products volume shot up 39 percent, metallic ores volume climbed 16.7 percent and motor vehicles/equipment volume rose 15.3 percent, farm products excluding grain loads plunged 28.1 percent, coal loads fell 18.2 percent and grain volume dropped 16.3 percent.

Coal traffic remains well below typical seasonal trends, but eastern railroads’ absolute coal volumes have at least stabilized at lower levels in recent weeks, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.’s weekly “Rail Flash” report, which adds that western railroads’ volumes continue to trend lower.

“Publicly traded rails recently reported expectations for continued weakness in the second quarter,” Baird analysts said in the report.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 80,951, up 5.2 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 52,838 units, up 13.8 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ carloadings fell 14.9 percent to 12,395 units but their intermodal volume jumped 25.2 percent to 9,396 units.

Through 2012’s first 15 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 5,569,914 carloads, down 1.8 percent, and 4,261,335 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

To access graphics provided by ASI-Transmatch that show changes to and depict trends in AAR weekly carloading data through April 14, log onto and scroll toward the bottom of the home page.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/20/2012