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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Weekly U.S. rail traffic averages hit high-water marks in July, AAR says


U.S. Class Is in July originated 1,471,811 carloads, up 6.3 percent, and 1,286,160 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared with July 2013 figures, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Total carloads averaged 294,362 per week, the highest average for a July since 2008, while the weekly intermodal volume average of 257,232 units set a July record, AAR officials said in a press release.

Fifteen of 20 commodity categories registered gains in July, led by motor vehicles and parts at 35.9 percent, grain at 18.7 percent, and crushed stone, gravel and sand at 15.9 percent. In addition, U.S. grain carloads in July marked their ninth-straight month of double-digit gains, “something that hasn’t happened since 1995,” AAR officials said.

U.S. railroads’ coal volume dropped 1.7 percent. Excluding coal, U.S. carloads jumped 11.7 percent, the largest year-over-year gain since June 2010; excluding coal and grain, carloads climbed 11 percent, the largest increase since December 2011, AAR officials said.

"The economy has had several so-called 'false dawns' over the past few years, but based on current rail traffic levels, there's reason to be optimistic that this time the economy might start growing like it should," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray.

For the week ending Aug. 2, U.S. railroads originated 304,229 carloads, up 5.6 percent, and 270,323 intermodal units, up 6 percent year over year. Canadian railroads’ weekly carloads increased 3.9 percent to 80,921 units and their intermodal volume climbed 8.8 percent to 60,743 units, while Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads rose 6.1 percent to 16,863 units and their intermodal volume jumped 10 percent to 11,128 units.

Through 2014’s first 31 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 11,845,301 carloads, up 3.1 percent, and 9,987,969 containers and trailers, up 5.9 percent compared with the same 2013 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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