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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR halves rail traffic commodity groups to 10

Yesterday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) released traffic data for the week ending Feb. 9, which showed U.S. traffic remained mixed. The data also revealed a change implemented by the association: Weekly rail traffic now is consolidated into 10 commodity groups instead of 20.

The new groups, some of which incorporate several commodities, are:
• chemicals;
• coal;
• farm and food products excluding grain, which includes grain mill products and food/kindred products;
• forest products, which includes primary forest products, lumber and wood products, and pulp, paper and allied products;
• grain;
• metallic ores and metals, which includes coke, metals and products, and iron and scrap steel;
• motor vehicles and parts;
• non-metallic minerals and products, which includes crushed stone, sand and gravel, and stone, clay and glass products;
• petroleum and petroleum products; and
• "other" traffic, which includes waste and nonferrous scrap, and all other carloads (intermodal remains a separate traffic category).

In terms of U.S. traffic for the week ending Feb. 9, originated carloads declined 2.3 percent to 273,369 units and intermodal volume climbed 7.7 percent to 244,679 units compared with volumes from the same week last year, the AAR reported.

Six of the 10 new carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products (65 percent), and nonmetallic minerals and products (14 percent). Grain loads fell 17.3 percent and metallic ores and metals volume dropped 13.5 percent.

For the week, Canadian railroads reported 80,020 carloads, up 3 percent, and 50,882 intermodal units, down 4.1 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads rose 7.9 percent to 14,211 units and intermodal volume rose 4.7 percent to 9,103 units.

Through 2013's first six weeks, total U.S. rail traffic dipped 0.7 percent to 3,026,282 units, total Canadian traffic increased 2.9 percent to 754,650 units and total Mexican traffic rose 3.2 percent to 135,279 units compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/15/2013