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12/3/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR traffic update: No November slowdown for U.S. roads or TFM; Canadian roads' intermodal units drop slightly



U.S. railroads kept up their year-long traffic-building pace last month, increasing carloads 2.6 percent compared with November 2003, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Coal carloads paced the monthly traffic increase, rising 5.2 percent to 538,164 units — or 40 percent of U.S. roads' total November carloads. Other commodities posting traffic gains included metallic ores (13.3 percent), crushed stone and gravel (8.3 percent), metals and metal products (8 percent) and petroleum products (8 percent).

Intermodal traffic was healthy last month, too. U.S. roads increased container and trailer moves 12.2 percent compared with November 2003.

"From now through the end of the year, every container or trailer carried on a U.S. railroad will be a record breaker, since total U.S. intermodal traffic through November already exceeds the previous annual record set last year," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "That kind of success, in tandem with the solid growth we're seeing in carload traffic, cannot occur unless railroads are doing an awful lot of things right."

During 2004's first 11 months, U.S. roads moved 15,834,519 carloads, up 2.9 percent, and 9,964,115 trailers and containers, up 9.9 percent compared with the same 2003 period. Total estimated volume of 1.46 trillion ton-miles rose 5.1 percent.

Canadian railroads also moved more carloads in November, but fewer intermodal loads: carload traffic rose 2.3 percent; intermodal traffic dropped 0.8 percent compared with November 2003.

Through 11 months, Canadian roads moved 3,167,671 carloads, up 7.1 percent, and 1,979,213 trailers and containers, up 0.2 percent compared with the same 2003 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 11 months, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads totaled 19,002,190 carloads and 11,943,328 intermodal loads, a 3.6 percent and 8.1 percent increase, respectively, compared with last year.

Meanwhile, Mexico's TFM S.A. de C.V. increased November carloads and intermodal loads 8.8 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively, compared with November 2003. After a slow start to 2004, TFM's 11-month traffic figures totaled 410,604 carloads, up 3.6 percent, and 178,556 trailers and containers, up 8.4 percent compared with the same 2003 period.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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