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AAR: U.S. carload volume reached eight-month high in November


Last month, U.S. railroads originated 1.5 million carloads, up 2.3 percent, and 1.2 million containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent compared with November 2010 volumes, according to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) latest “Rail Time Indicators” report. The railroads registered their largest year-over-year percentage increase in carload traffic since March 2011, the report states.

Thirteen of 20 carload commodity categories posted gains, led by petroleum and petroleum products (18.8 percent), motor vehicles and parts (18.7 percent), crushed stone, gravel and sand (12 percent), and coal (1.3 percent).

“Year-over-year intermodal traffic grew for the 24th-straight month,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement. “There are still clearly a lot of things that aren’t right with the economy, but we hope this improvement in rail traffic is a sign that the pace of economic growth is increasing.”
The AAR also reported gains in weekly U.S. rail traffic. For the week ending Dec. 3, U.S. carloads increased 2.8 percent and intermodal volume rose 3.5 percent year over year.

Intermodal was in line with traffic from recent weeks, with eastern volume again outpacing western volume, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.’s weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Truck conversion to rail supports the strength in the East while weak imports are tempering growth on the West Coast,” Baird analysts said in the report.
In Canada, volumes for the week ending Dec. 3 included 79,162 carloads, up 2.9 percent, and 50,902 intermodal loads, up 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads inched up 0.5 percent to 13,989 units and intermodal volume jumped 27.5 percent to 9,081 units.
Through 2011’s first 48 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 18.3 million carloads, up 2.1 percent, and 13.7 million containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent year over year.

For more AAR traffic data covering the 48-week period, November and the week ending Dec. 3, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/9/2011