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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Traffic slips in August, but grain surge is 'the big story'


U.S. railroads' carload and intermodal traffic dipped 5.7 percent to 2,675,263 units last month compared with a year ago, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday.
Carload traffic totaled 1,347,989 units, down 6.6 percent for the month, while intermodal volume totaled 1,327,274 containers and trailers, down 4.8 percent, according to an AAR press release.

Eight of the 20 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR each month showed improvements last month. They included grain, which soared 24.7 percent or 23,857 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 25.4 percent or 4,182 carloads; and chemicals, which inched up 1 percent or 1,699 carloads.

Commodities that reflected decreases in traffic last month included coal, which dropped 16 percent or 86,638 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, which plummeted 25 percent, or 17,650 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, which slipped 6.9 percent to 8,913 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads declined 1 percent last month compared with August 2015.

"While August showed improvements in some categories, the big story in terms of rail traffic last month was the continuing surge in carloads of grain," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray.

"Railroads, along with barges and trucks, are a critical part of the grain logistical chain," added Gray. "The fact that this chain generally functions smoothly is a testament to the tremendous efforts that transportation providers, including railroads, put forth in support of their grain-related customers."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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