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AAR: U.S. railroads post traffic decline in week No. 50

The slide in U.S. rail traffic continued in the week ending Dec. 19, when railroads reported that total carloads fell 14.9 percent and intermodal loads declined 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

In the 50th week, U.S. weekly rail traffic totaled 525,555 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Commodity groups that posted decreases were primarily connected to the energy industry: coal volumes plummeted 29.9 percent to 85,021 carloads; metallic ores and metals fell 25.3 percent to 20,647 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products dropped 20.7 percent to 13,137 carloads.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases during the week, including miscellaneous carloads, up 38.3 percent to 10,718 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 12.9 percent to 19,773 carloads; and chemicals, up 6.1 percent to 31,187 carloads.

For the week, Canadian railroads reported 74,224 carloads, down 13.6 percent, and 57,502 intermodal units, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. Mexican railroads counted 17,097 carloads for the week, up 10.7 percent, and 9,133 intermodal units, down 14.5 percent.

On a cumulative basis through the first 50 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads did log an increase in intermodal traffic, which rose 1.6 percent to 13,338,522 units compared with the same 2014 period. Total carload volume, however, followed a familiar pattern over the same period: On a cumulative basis, U.S. railroads posted a 5.6 percent decrease to 13,851,558 carloads.

For the first 50 weeks of the year, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,856,577 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.3 percent. However, Mexican railroads saw an uptick in business during the 50-week period: Cumulative volume rose 1.4 percent to 1,360,946 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers compared with the same 2014 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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