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AAR reports 'mixed' traffic results for October


U.S. railroads moved 2,781,951 carloads and intermodal units last month, a 2.6 percent increase compared with volumes moved in October 2017, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Last month, U.S. railroads' carload traffic ticked up 1 percent to 1,338,037 units, while intermodal volume climbed 4.2 percent to 1,443,914 containers and trailers compared with the same period a year ago.

Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity categories that AAR tracks monthly posted gains compared with October 2017. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 13,746 carloads or 28.4 percent; coal, up 6,828 carloads or 1.6 percent; and primary metal products, up 4,188 carloads or 9.8 percent.

Commodities that posted decreases last month included crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 12,745 carloads or 9.6 percent; grain, down 5,620 carloads or 4.8 percent; and coke, down 2,067 carloads or 9.9 percent.

AAR Senior Vice President John Gray described October's traffic results as "mixed."

"On the negative side, changing market conditions for frac sand caused lower rail carloads of crushed stone, sand and gravel, while uncertainties in export markets helped keep grain carloads down," said Gray in an AAR press release. "On the plus side, coal carloads in October rose for the first time in five months and intermodal enjoyed its second-best month ever. All in all, we expect most rail traffic categories to continue to benefit from what we hope will be continued solid economic growth."

Excluding coal, carloads were up 5,770 carloads, or 0.6 percent, in October 2018 from October 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 11,390 carloads, or 1.5 percent.

For the first 10 months of 2018, U.S. carload traffic increased 1.9 percent and intermodal volume rose 5.8 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/8/2018