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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR data: U.S. and Canadian railroads post intermodal gains, carload declines in April

Last month, U.S. railroads originated more intermodal traffic but fewer carloads compared with April 2005. The roads originated 945,511 trailers and containers, up 6.8 percent, and 1.36 million carloads, down 1 percent, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Commodities registering carload gains include metal products (6.4 percent), grain (2.7 percent) and coal (1.5 percent).

“Railroads expect to haul more coal in 2006 than any previous year,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

Commodities posting carload declines include non-metallic minerals (24.2 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (5.3 percent) and chemicals (2.6 percent).

“Difficulties within the automotive industry have negatively affected rail traffic of motor vehicles and vehicle parts, and the sharp decline in non-metallic mineral traffic … is largely a function of reduced international demand for phosphate rock for fertilizer,” said Rockey.

During 2006’s first four months, U.S. railroads originated 5.7 million carloads, up 0.3 percent, and 3.9 million trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent compared with the same 2005 period. Total estimated volume of 562.4 billion ton-miles rose 1.4 percent.

Canadian railroads also originated more intermodal traffic and fewer carloads in April. Carloads totaling 304,223 units dropped 2 percent and intermodal loads totaling 186,802 units increased 6.9 percent compared with April 2005.

Through the year’s first four months, Canadian railroads originated 1.27 million carloads, down 2.1 percent, and 748,481 trailers and containers, up 5 percent compared with the same 2005 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through four months, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 6.96 million carloads, down 0.2 percent, and 4.63 million trailers and containers, up 5.7 percent compared with 2005’s first four months.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. last month carried 44,893 carloads, down 12.3 percent, and 13,801 intermodal units, down 23.8 percent compared with April 2005. During the year’s first four months, the railroad’s carloads and intermodal loads carried dropped 5.9 percent and 7 percent, respectively, compared with the same 2005 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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