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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Another weekly traffic decline for U.S. roads as holidays draw near


For the week ending Dec. 8, U.S. railroads reported 292,206 carloads, down 1.6 percent, and 240,098 containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Twelve of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products (59.5 percent), lumber wood and products (18.6 percent), and metallic ores (16.6 percent). Grain carloads fell 15.3 percent, metals and products volume tumbled  11.9 percent and coal loads declined 9.7 percent.

In terms of industrial products, there's been some good news of late with housing-related freight. Railroads' lumber, crushed stone, sand and gravel carloads are up so far in the fourth quarter due to higher housing starts, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report. Housing starts ballooned by 42 percent in October to 894,000 annualized units, the most since July 2008, they said.

In Canada, railroads reported 80,288 carloads for the week ending Dec. 8, up 6.5 percent year over year. They also handled 51,898 intermodal loads, up 5.5 percent. Mexican railroads increased their weekly carloads 9.8 percent to 15,312 units and boosted their intermodal volume 16.6 percent to 11,250 units.

Through 2012's first 49 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 18,386,974 carloads, down 1.8 percent, and 14,650,339 containers and trailers, up 4.3 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

Meanwhile, RailAmerica Inc. reported November carloads totaling 70,877, up 1.9 percent compared with November 2011. Same-railroad carloads dipped 0.5 percent.

Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
reported November carloads totaling 75,048, down 6.7 percent on a year-over-year basis. Same-railroad traffic decreased 8.7 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/14/2012