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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: More mixed traffic results for U.S., Canadian roads

The new year isn't quite three weeks old yet and U.S. railroads' mixed-traffic fortunes haven't changed much from 2012. For the week ending Jan. 12, they reported 279,893 carloads, down 6.4 percent, and 252,896 intermodal loads, up 10.4 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Thirteen of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum products (47.7 percent), crushed stone, sand and gravel (17.5 percent), and lumber and wood products (15.5 percent). Iron and steel scrap carloads fell 22.1 percent, metallic ores traffic dropped 18.6 percent and coal volume declined 16 percent.

Overall, carloads rebounded in Week No. 2 after volatile growth rates in recent weeks, owing to the timing of the holiday calendar, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"Normalizing for seasonal variance, rail volumes in recent weeks appear stable," they said.

For the week ending Jan. 12, Canadian railroads reported 75,982 carloads, down 1.1 percent, and 53,908 containers and trailers, up 7.8 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 19.6 percent to 14,539 units and intermodal volume rose 6.1 percent to 9,355 units.

Through 2013's first two weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 688,918 carloads, down 7.2 percent, and 541,567 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent versus 2012.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/18/2013