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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Not even hurricane-related traffic hiccups are slowing U.S. railroads' carload gains, AAR says


Despite traffic disruptions in the southeast caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, U.S. railroads boosted carload and intermodal moves last month. The roads’ September carloads rose 2.5 percent to 1.3 million units and intermodal loads went up 6.9 percent to 937,360 units compared with September 2004, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

"U.S. railroads have done a tremendous job getting most of their operations back on line following Katrina and Rita," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "As the affected regions rebuild, railroads will be a critical part of the reconstruction and relief efforts."

During the third quarter, U.S. roads moved 4.3 million carloads, up 1 percent, and nearly 3 million intermodal loads, up 6.5 percent compared with third-quarter 2004. During 2005’s first nine months, the railroads boosted carloads 1.4 percent to nearly 13 million units, and increased container and trailer moves 6.3 percent to 8.6 million compared with the same 2004 period. Total estimated volume through nine months of 1.25 trillion ton-miles rose 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads had a so-so September. The roads’ carloads fell 0.9 percent to 306,992 units but intermodal loads rose 4.5 percent to 179,559 units compared with September 2004.

During the third quarter, Canadian railroads moved 966,508 carloads, down 1.4 percent, and 570,907 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with third-quarter 2004. Through nine months, the roads’ carloads dropped 0.5 percent to 2.9 million units and intermodal loads rose 2.9 percent to 1.6 million units compared with the same 2004 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through nine months, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads moved 15.9 million carloads, up 1.1 percent, and 10.3 million trailers and containers, up 5.7 percent compared with 2004’s first nine months.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V.’s traffic continues to decline on a year-over-year basis. The railroad’s carloads fell 14.6 percent, 9.3 percent and 2.7 percent during September, the third quarter and 2005’s first nine months, respectively, compared with the same 2004 periods. Intermodal moves decreased 3.7 percent and 2.4 percent in September and the third quarter, respectively, but increased 3.9 percent through nine months compared with last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/7/2005