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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Carloads continue to drop, intermodal remains on the rise for U.S. roads


U.S. railroads’ recent intermodal up, carloads down trend held true last week. For the week ending March 10, their carloads dropped 4.8 percent to 278,728 units and their intermodal volume rose 4.2 percent to 226,039 units compared with traffic from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Only 11 of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains. Coal volume declined 13.1 percent and coke volume decreased 10.3 percent. Coal weakness likely will continue as the weather warms and inventories build, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“However, already-elevated stockpiles will temper traditional spring shipment volumes,” they said. “Eastern rails noted solid thermal export coal demand, with softer export met coal trends [so far] in the first quarter.”
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 75,100, up 4.8 percent, and intermodal traffic totaling 49,253 containers and trailers, up 16.8 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ carloads dipped 2.5 percent to 13,945 units, but their intermodal volume climbed 17.3 percent to 7,786 units.
Through 2012’s first 10 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 3,718,135 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 2,795,911 containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent versus last year.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending March 10 and through 10 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/16/2012