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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR traffic update: North American roads register monthly, quarterly and year-to-date gains


U.S. railroads continued to build carload and intermodal traffic during September and the third quarter, according to Association of American Railroads data released last week.

The roads' monthly carloads totaling 1,694,436 and intermodal loads totaling 1,096,488 rose 0.8 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, compared with September 2003. During the quarter, carloads totaled 4,362,719, up 1.1 percent, and intermodal loads totaled 2,809,861, up 9.3 percent compared with third-quarter 2003 data.

"We're running out of superlatives to describe rail intermodal growth," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "The top three highest-volume intermodal weeks in history occurred in September, and the top 18 weeks in history have all occurred in the past six months."

During the year's first nine months, U.S. roads moved 13,084,728 carloads, up 3 percent, and 8,144,940 trailers and containers, up 9.5 percent compared with similar 2003 data. Total estimated volume of 1.18 trillion ton-miles rose 4.1 percent.

Canadian roads posted monthly, quarterly and year-to-date traffic gains, too. September carloads totaling 335,484 and intermodal loads totaling 215,893 increased 3.1 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively; quarterly carloads totaling 852,369 and intermodal loads totaling 552,503 rose 6.5 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively; and nine-month carloads totaling 2,604,565 and intermodal loads totaling 1,627,086 increased 8.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, compared with similar 2003 data.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 2004's first 39 weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 15,689,293 carloads, up 3.8 percent, and 9,772,026 trailers and containers, up 7.8 percent compared with last year.

Meanwhile, TFM S.A. de C.V.'s recent traffic rebound has enabled the Mexican road to register monthly, quarterly and nine-month traffic increases as well. TFM's September, third-quarter and year-to-date carloads rose 15.2 percent, 10.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, compared with similar 2003 data. During the same periods, TFM's intermodal loads increased 21.9 percent, 15.9 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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