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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Katrina doesn't dampen U.S. roads' monthly, weekly traffic tallies, AAR says

Although Hurricane Katrina damaged lines or spilled debris onto tracks in the Gulf Coast region two weeks ago, the storm didn’t prevent U.S. railroads from increasing traffic during the month of August or week ending Sept. 3.

Last month, the roads moved 1.69 million carloads, up 0.5 percent, and 1.17 million intermodal loads, up 7.2 percent compared with August 2004, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). For the week, the roads’ carloads and intermodal loads rose 0.2 percent and 7.1 percent compared with the same week last year.

“Freight railroads sustained extensive damage in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina, but the industry’s resilience and fast reaction allowed it to move more cargo during the week of the storm,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger in a prepared statement. “Railroads are concentrating on establishing detours for affected traffic, repairing damaged infrastructure, and providing aid to the citizens and businesses of the ravaged Gulf area.”

During 2005’s first eight months, U.S. railroads boosted carloads 1.3 percent to 11.6 million units and increased intermodal loads 6.2 percent to 7.7 million units compared with the same 2004 period. Total estimated volume of 1.12 trillion ton-miles rose 2.2 percent.

For Canadian railroads, carloads and intermodal moves headed in opposite directions last month. August carloads totaling 374,844 units dropped 0.1 percent while intermodal loads totaling 221,389 units increased 4.7 percent compared with August 2004. During 2005’s first eight months, Canadian roads moved 2.6 million carloads, down 0.5 percent, and 1.5 million intermodal loads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 35 weeks, 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads boosted carloads 1 percent to 14.3 million units and increased intermodal loads 5.6 percent to 9.2 million units compared with 2004’s first 35 weeks.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V.’s year-over-year traffic figures continued to decline. August carloads and intermodal loads dipped 9.6 percent to 40,530 units and 6.1 percent to 19,483 units, respectively. During 2005’s first eight months, TFM moved 296,463 carloads, down 1.2 percent, and 133,838 intermodal loads, up 4.8 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/12/2005