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AAR: 'Glimmers of hope' in November rail traffic data


Total U.S. rail traffic increased a bit in November — up 1.1 percent to 2,638,197 carloads and intermodal units compared with November 2015's traffic volume, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday.

The total volume numbers reflected slight increases in both carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. Carload traffic rose 0.4 percent to 1,319,008 units, while intermodal inched up 1.9 percent to 1,319,189 units compared with year-ago numbers, according to an AAR press release.

AAR described November's traffic activity as a hopeful sign for the industry.

"There are glimmers of hope in rail traffic data in November, with carloads and intermodal totals both up over last year — something that hasn't happened for carloads in 22 months and for intermodal in nine months," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. "Hopefully, these results are indicators of continuing future growth for the manufacturing economy, for trade, and for rail traffic. It appears that economic fundamentals are trending toward more positive results than have been seen in the recent past."

Last month, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2015. They included grain, up 18.6 percent; chemicals, up 1.9 percent; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 13.1 percent.

Commodities that logged decreases last month compared with a year ago included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.4 percent; coal, down 2 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.5 percent. Excluding coal, carloads rose 1.7 percent last month compared with carloads in November 2015.

For the first 11 months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 24,601,839 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.8 percent from the same point last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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