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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR January data: Weather woes erode U.S. roads' carloads; TFM rallies with traffic tallies

Last month, harsh winter weather slowed trains in many parts of the country, putting an end to U.S. railroads' long traffic-building streak. For the first time in more than a year, the roads didn't increase monthly carloads on a year-over-year basis because of weather-related delays. In January, carloads dropped 0.7 percent compared with January 2004, according to Association of American Railroads data. Total estimated volume of 119.6 billion ton-miles decreased 0.1 percent.

"Throw in torrential rain and mudslides, blizzards and bitter cold — as we had in January in different parts of the country — and maintaining fluid operations becomes more difficult," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

Nonetheless, intermodal traffic continues to hum along. Last month, U.S. roads increased container and trailer moves 7.4 percent compared with January 2004.

Canadian railroads fared better with January carload traffic, which rose 0.1 percent compared with the same 2003 period. But the roads' intermodal traffic dipped 1.1 percent compared with January 2004.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 2005's first four weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 1,543,719 carloads, down 0.6 percent, and 996,373 trailers and containers, up 6.4 percent compared with 2004’s first four weeks.

Meanwhile, TFM S.A. de C.V. had a banner month on both sides of the traffic equation — a complete turnabout from the railroad's traffic struggles during first-quarter 2004. The road's carloads totaling 33,178 units rose 3.8 percent and intermodal loads totaling 14,540 units increased 24.2 percent compared with January 2004.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/4/2005