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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S., Canadian intermodal moves rise, carloads fall in February, AAR says


While U.S. railroad carload traffic last month dipped again, falling 1.9 percent, intermodal volume rose 4.9 percent compared with February 2001, according to Association of American Railroads data released March 7.
"Economically sensitive intermodal traffic is up for the first time since December 2000, and not since April 2000 has there been a bigger year-over-year increase in that category," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.
Carload commodities registering year-over-year drops in February include coke, 17.7 percent; primary forest products, 15.8 percent; pulp and paper, 8.9 percent; coal, 3.1 percent; and chemicals, 2.2 percent.
On the positive side, motor vehicles and equipment carloads rose 12 percent; lumber or wood products, 11.1 percent; grain mill products, 6.2 percent; and crushed stone and gravel, 2.3 percent, compared with February 2001.
During 2002's first two months, U.S. railroads moved 2,854,275 carloads, down 2.6 percent (74,971 carloads), and 1,480,676 trailers and containers, down 0.1 percent (1,214 trailers and containers), compared with a similar 2001 period. Total volume through nine weeks of 250.2 billion ton-miles dipped 1 percent.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads last month experienced similar carloads-down, intermodal-up trends: carloads dropped 3.2 percent (8,157 carloads) while trailer and container moves rose 6.3 percent (8,757 units) compared with February 2001.
Per commodity, motor vehicles and equipment carloads climbed 20.3 percent; lumber and wood products, 13 percent; and chemicals, 4.2 percent, while farm products excluding grain carloads dropped 33.6 percent; grain, 21.6 percent; and coal, 17.9 percent.
During 2002's first two months, Canadian railroads moved 530,218 carloads, down 5.5 percent (30,868 carloads), and 306,393 trailers and containers, up 1 percent (3,038 units).
On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads during 2002's first nine weeks moved 3,384,493 carloads, down 3.0 percent (105,839 carloads), and 1,787,069 trailers and containers, up 0.1 percent (1,824 trailers and containers) compared with 2001's first nine weeks.
Meanwhile, TFM S.A. de C.V. last month moved 13 percent fewer carloads and originated 35.2 percent fewer intermodal moves, and during 2002's first two months recorded 3.9 percent fewer carloads and moved 10 percent fewer trailers and containers, compared with similar 2001 periods.