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AAR: U.S. carloads, intermodal loads climbed last week


U.S. rail traffic rose on two counts in the week ending May 4. Total U.S. carloads increased 2.8 percent to 283,916 and total intermodal volume climbed a likewise 2.8 percent to 245,678 units compared with traffic from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Six of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by a 52.4 percent jump in petroleum and petroleum products traffic. Grain volume fell 5.9 percent.

Railroads are expecting continued weakness with agricultural products traffic through the remainder of the first half given last year’s drought, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report, adding that corn accounts for about half of grain carloads.

"According to the USDA Prospective Plantings report, farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn in 2013, up 6 percent from 2012 levels and the highest planted acreage since 1936," they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 79,903 carloads for the week ending May 4, a 1.4 percent decline compared with the same 2012 period. But their intermodal volume inched up 0.9 percent to 55,100 units. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 4.9 percent to 14,296 and their intermodal volume tumbled 9.7 percent to 7,838 units.

Through 2013's first 18 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 6,647,821 carloads, down 0.8 percent, and 5,386,789 containers and trailers, up 4.1 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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