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AAR: U.S. rail traffic down 2 percent in September


U.S. railroads reported traffic volumes last month fell 2 percent to 2,783,730 carloads, containers and intermodal units compared with September 2014, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday.

Last month, U.S. railroads logged 1,417,750 carloads, a decrease of 4.9 percent. Intermodal traffic last month continued to follow what has become a familiar pattern for 2015: U.S. roads posted 1,365,980 containers and trailers, a 1.2 percent increase compared with September 2014’s volumes.

Six of the 20 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR last month saw carload gains compared with September 2014.  This included: grain, up 14.4 percent or 13,447 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 33.1 percent or 8,057 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.9 percent or 4,239 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in September 2015 from September 2014 included: coal, down 8.2 percent or 46,085 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.6 percent or 12,692 carloads; and primary metal products, down 18.9 percent or 10,617 carloads.

For the first nine months of 2015, total U.S. carload traffic fell 4.4 percent to 10,880,686 carloads, while intermodal traffic rose 2.5 percent to 10,417,267 containers and trailers compared with the same period in 2014.

"Once again, U.S. rail traffic in September was down mainly because of declines in carloads related to energy and steel," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release. "Intermodal continues to do well while results vary for other commodity categories. As we head into the fall shipping season, railroads are confident they will be able to handle reliably and safely the traffic their customers send their way. Now, we just need a bit more cooperation from the economy."

For the week ending Oct. 3, U.S. rail traffic slipped just 0.7 percent — to 572,293 carloads and intermodal units — compared with the same week in 2014.

Canadian railroads’ carloads for the week dropped 12.6 percent to 76,898, while the number of intermodal units climbed 11.4 percent to 64,518 units compared with a year ago. Mexican railroads reported 15,676 carloads for the week, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,386 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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