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U.S. railroads boosted traffic last week, one of the few times so far in 2014 they've registered carload and intermodal volume gains because of brutal winter weather.For the week ending March 15, the roads originated 289,375 carloads, up 3.1 percent, and 255,991 intermodal units, up 11.9 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads data.Total combined weekly rail traffic rose 7 percent and seven of 10 carload commodity groups posted increases, led by grain at 21 percent. Motor vehicles and parts volume fell 8 percent. In the intermodal sector, eastern volume rose 8 percent and western volume climbed 14 percent in the year's 11th week, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.'s "Rail Flash" report."Solid volume growth, particularly in intermodal, may be an indication that weather disruptions are subsiding and backlogs are unwinding, though railroad dwell time and cars on line remain elevated," Baird analysts said in the report.Meanwhile, Canadian railroads for the week ending March 15 reported 73,218 carloads, down 8 percent, and 52,296 intermodal loads, up 4.9 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads ratcheted up 1.9 percent to 15,910 but their intermodal volume dipped 1.9 percent to 9,070 units.Through 2014's first 11 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 3,951,924 carloads, down 1.7 percent, and 3,341,182 containers and trailers, up 1.7 percent compared with the same 2013 period.
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