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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Railroads' intermodal traffic sets record in June

U.S. railroads'  traffic slipped a bit to 13,535,597 carloads and intermodal units during the first six months of 2015, down 0.9 percent from the same period in 2014, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the six-month period fell 3.8 percent to 6,930,568 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers traffic rose 2.3 percent to 6,605,029 compared with a year ago.

U.S. traffic for the full month of June totaled 1,087,066 carloads, down 7.7 percent compared with June 2014.

However, the continuing strength of the intermodal business was reflected in June's numbers, as well: For the month, U.S. railroads originated 1,117,149 containers and trailers, a 3.7 percent increase compared with June 2014.

In June, railroads posted gains in six of 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR, including motor vehicles and parts up 4.7 percent; grain, 3 percent; and coke, up 7.1 percent. Commodities that decreased in traffic last month included coal, which was down 17.4 percent compared with June 2014.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.9 percent for the month.

"Recent declines in rail carload traffic, especially coal, shouldn't detract from the tremendous improvements we've been seeing in intermodal," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release. "The growth in rail intermodal is one of America's best transportation-related success stories. June 2015 was the highest-volume rail intermodal month in history for U.S. railroads, and 2015 will almost certainly set another annual record, breaking the record set last year."

For the week ending June 27, U.S. railroads posted 547,969 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent compared with the same week a year ago. Carloads totaled 272,405, down 8.9 percent, while intermodal volume was 275,564 containers and trailers, up 4.1 percent.

Canadian railroads logged 80,388 carloads for the week, down 3.8 percent, and 60,009 intermodal units, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014. Mexican railroads posted 17,458 carloads for the week, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,136 intermodal units, up 9.6 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/2/2015