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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Intermodal still up, carloads still down for U.S. railroads in week 40


U.S. rail traffic maintained a year-long trend in October's first week. For the period ending Oct. 6, carloads totaled 283,440 units, down 6.3 percent, while intermodal volume totaled 251,113 units, up 3.8 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Ten of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products (46.1 percent), farm products excluding grain (30 percent), and lumber and wood products (11.2 percent). Coal volume fell 18.1 percent, iron and steel scrap loads declined 17.9 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap traffic dropped 11.5 percent.

After rebounding early in the third quarter, absolute coal volumes have continued to deteriorate into the fourth quarter as inventories at utilities remain high, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts said in their latest weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"Week 40 coal carloads contracted 17 percent in the second-largest weekly year-over-year decline of 2012; volumes contracted 6 percent in the third quarter after a 9 percent first-half contraction, and have trended below [seasonal averages] since the beginning of September," they said.

For the week ending Oct. 6, Canadian railroads reported 80,156 carloads, down 0.2 percent, and 574,206 containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads increased 3.4 percent to 15,122 units and intermodal volume jumped 17.5 percent to 11,626 units.

Through 2012's first 40 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 14,985,237 carloads, down 1.5 percent, and 11,923,046 containers and trailers, up 4.7 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/12/2012