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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. and Canadian railroads originate fewer carloads in February, AAR says

Last month, U.S. railroads’ originated carloads totaling 1.3 million units decreased 2.0 percent but originated intermodal units totaling 904,473 increased 2.2 percent compared with February 2005, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

The railroads posted gains in originated carloads of crushed stone, sand and gravel (up 5.7 percent); food products (up 4.0 percent); and metals and metal products (up 2.7 percent). However, originated carloads of non-metallic minerals, coke and motor vehicles/equipment dropped 30.9 percent, 16.8 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

“February 2005 was a particularly strong month for rail traffic, making it a tough month to beat even without the winter storms that negatively affected rail traffic in February 2006,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

During 2006’s first two months, U.S. railroads registered 2.6 million originated carloads, up 1.0 percent, and 1.8 million originated intermodal units, up 4.2 percent compared with the same 2005 period. Total estimated volume of 261.5 billion ton-miles rose 2.3 percent.

In terms of total carloads carried during an eight-week period ending Feb. 25, BNSF Railway Co.’s 776,567 units increased 4.8 percent, Norfolk Southern Corp.’s 715,131 units rose 2.2 percent and Union Pacific Railroad’s 928,975 units increased 0.3 percent compared with 2006’s first eight weeks. Kansas City Southern carried a total of 117,297 carloads, down 3.9 percent and CSX Transportation carried a total of 800,691 carloads, down 1.1 percent.

Canadian railroads had a similar up-and-down month in February. The roads’ originated carloads totaling 293,350 units decreased 5.3 percent but originated intermodal traffic totaling 172,777 units increased 2.3 percent compared with February 2005.

During the year’s first two months, Canadian railroads moved 583,297 originated carloads, down 1.6 percent, and 338,871 originated intermodal loads, up 4.1 percent compared with the same 2006 period.

Through eight weeks, Canadian National Railway Co. carried a total of 511,580 carloads, down 1.2 percent, and Canadian Pacific Railway carried a total of 221,562 carloads, down 5.3 percent compared with 2006’s first eight weeks.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through eight weeks, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 3.2 million carloads, up 0.5 percent, and 2.1 million trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent compared with the same 2006 period.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. posted February total carloads carried of 44,246 units, down 10.3 percent, and total intermodal loads carried of 16,178 units, down 6.5 percent compared with February 2005. During an eight-week period ending Feb. 25, the railroad carried a total of 88,454 carloads, down 6.4 percent, and 29,604 intermodal loads, down 9.7 percent compared with the same 2006 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/7/2006