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AAR: U.S. railroads log traffic increase in Week 7; crude oil shipments down 17 percent in 2015

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic rose 5.1 percent for the week ending Feb. 20, bolstered by a whopping 18.2 percent increase in intermodal containers and trailers, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday.

Carload traffic volumes continued to fall in week No. 7, however. Railroads logged 244,747 carloads during the week, down 5.7 percent compared with a year ago.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 30.7 percent; miscellaneous carloads, up 22.5 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, up 6.4 percent.

Commodity groups that posted decreases during the week included petroleum and petroleum products, down 22.1 percent; coal, down 20.2 percent; and farm products (excluding grain) and food, down 5.7 percent.

For the first seven weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads posted cumulative volume of 1,698,803 carloads, down 14.3 percent from the same point last year; and 1,815,728 intermodal units, up 7.3 percent from last year. The total combined U.S. traffic for the seven-week period was 3,514,531 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.4 percent compared the same period in 2015.

Canadian railroads reported carload traffic for the week ending Feb. 20 declined 1.2 percent, while intermodal traffic rose 13.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the seven-week period, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 903,225 carloads, containers and trailers, down 3.8 percent.

Intermodal in week No. 7 was a different story in Mexico, where railroads posted a 6.3 percent decrease in containers and trailers. However, Mexican railroads' carload traffic increased 4.6 percent in the week compared with the same week in 2015. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2016 was 189,284 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.0 percent from the same point last year.

Meanwhile, AAR also reported U.S. crude-by-rail shipments in 2015 declined nearly 17 percent compared with 2014, as domestic crude oil production slowed.

Last year, U.S. railroads moved 410,249 carloads of crude oil, down 16.8 percent or 82,897 carloads from 2014. Crude oil accounted for 1.4 percent of total U.S. carloads; in 2014, it was 1.6 percent, according to AAR.

In fourth-quarter 2015, 84,925 crude-oil carloads originated in the United States, down 16 percent or 16,242 carloads compared with third-quarter 2015, and down 35.2 percent or 46,146 carloads compared with fourth-quarter 2014.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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