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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. roads notched traffic gains through October, into November


In October, U.S. railroads logged 1,443,609 carloads, up 1.5 percent, and 1,317,601 intermodal loads, up 6.8 percent compared with October 2012 totals, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The weekly intermodal average of 263,520 units set a new high for any month and the carload percentage gain was the largest in the past 22 months, although rail traffic in late October 2012 was impacted by Hurricane Sandy, AAR officials said in a press release.

Fifteen of 20 commodity groups tracked by the association registered gains in October, led by petroleum and petroleum products (14.2 percent), grain (9.3 percent), and crushed stone, gravel and sand (7.2 percent). The volume of farm products excluding grain plummeted 46.2 percent and coal volume dipped 5.4 percent. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads rose 5.6 percent.

"There's been some concern lately that the recovery may be running out of steam. Rail traffic data for October doesn't seem to support that," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. "A number of economically sensitive commodities, like lumber, autos, and chemicals, saw higher traffic volumes in October."

The AAR also reported that U.S. Class Is originated 93,312 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter, up 44.3 percent versus third-quarter 2012's mark, but down 14.1 percent versus the second quarter's total.

For the week ending Nov. 2, U.S. railroads originated 292,398 carloads, up 5.1 percent, and 264,264 intermodal loads, up 17.7 percent year over year, in part reflecting the hurricane's impact on rail traffic in the comparable 2012 week, AAR officials said. Canadian railroads' weekly carloads rose 6.8 percent to 83,000 units and their intermodal volume climbed 8.3 percent to 54,867 units,while Mexican railroads' weekly carloads dipped 0.4 percent to 14,281 units and intermodal volume fell 15 percent to 8,928 units.

Through 2013's first 44 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 16,525,483 carloads, up 0.2 percent, and 13,680,199 containers and trailers, up 3.9 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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