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U.S. rail traffic returned to mixed-result mode last week. For the period ending Sept. 21, U.S. railroads originated 288,160 carloads, down 1.5 percent, and 262,897 intermodal loads, up 3.4 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.Total U.S. rail traffic inched up 0.8 percent to 551,057 units. Six of 10 carload commodity groups posted increases, led by petroleum and petroleum products at 8 percent, but grain carloads tumbled 21.3 percent and agricultural products volume dipped 10 percent.But ag products might not lag too much longer. Only 7 percent of corn acreage has been harvested to date compared with 37 percent at the same point last year and a five-year average of 16 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."Total corn production is still expected to be 13.8 billion bushels, above the previous record high," said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.In Canada, railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 85,635, up 6.5 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 56,946 units, down 1.5 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' carloads for the week ending Sept. 21 fell 12.1 percent to 12,839 and their intermodal traffic declined 10.8 percent to 10,242 units.Through 2013's first 38 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 14,195,675 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 11,685,269 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared with the same 2012 period.
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