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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Weekly intermodal volume strong in U.S., but carloads still weak

For the week ending August 25, U.S. railroads originated 297,042 carloads, down 0.8 percent compared with volume from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Ten of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products (55.7 percent), farm products excluding grain (26.5 percent), and lumber and wood products (20.8 percent). Metallic ores and waste/ nonferrous scrap volumes declined 17.5 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively.
Intermodal volume for the week totaled 248,364 units, up 5.2 percent year over year, according to the AAR. Although domestic intermodal growth remained solid, overall volume growth though the third quarter so far has been modestly behind expectations, consistent with sluggish July/August freight demand, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Notably, labor negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance were suspended Aug. 22; if no agreement is in place by Sept. 30, work stoppages could significantly impact Eastern port operations and intermodal volumes,” they said.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 79,853 units, up 3.9 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 53,277 units, up 3.2 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ carload volume dipped 0.1 percent to 15,030 units, but their intermodal volume jumped 32.6 percent to 11,135 units.
Through 2012’s first 34 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 12,686,777 carloads, down 1.3 percent, and 10,039,414 containers and trailers, up 4.6 percent compared with volumes from the same 2011 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/31/2012