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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Weekly U.S. carloads, intermodal loads climbed again

For a second-straight week, U.S. railroads boosted both carloads and intermodal loads. For the week ending March 23, they originated 278,738 carloads, up 0.2 percent, and 235,641 containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent compared with volume from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Total U.S. traffic for the week inched up 0.7 percent to 514,379 units. Only four of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products at 57 percent. Grain loads declined 17.3 percent and agricultural products carloads dropped 8 percent.

Railroads are expecting continued weakness in ag products volume through the year's first half given last year's drought, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"According to the USDA Prospective Plantings report, farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn in 2013, up 6 percent from 2012 levels and the highest planted acreage since 1936," they said, adding that corn accounts for about half of grain carloads.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 79,130, up 1.9 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 50,589 units, down 2.2 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 12.7 percent to 15,990 units but their intermodal volume fell 15.5 percent to 7,585 units.

Through 2013's first 12 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 4,395,372 carloads, down 1.5 percent, and 3,575,271 containers and trailers, up 6 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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