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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. intermodal volume jumps, carload traffic takes a few lumps in May


In May, U.S. railroads’ carloads rose 15.8 percent to 1.15 million units and intermodal volume jumped 18.9 percent to 867,516 units compared with May 2009 figures, according to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Rail Time Indicators report for June.

Intermodal traffic increased for the third-straight month in May and approached the pre-recession levels of 2008. However, carloads dropped slightly vs. April’s level and the number of rail cars brought out of storage last month totaled 747, “slowing for the first time in several months,” according to the AAR.

“Several economic indicators, including unemployment, reinforce the fact that the economy still has a long way to go to full recovery,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a prepared statement.

Nonetheless, 18 of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR posted year-over-year gains in May. Coal traffic rose 6.8 percent.
“Coal exports in the first quarter [were] up 31 percent over the first quarter of 2009,” said Gray. “That coupled with decreasing coal stockpiles has fueled notable increases … in coal traffic.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, May carloads were down 1.1 percent and intermodal loads were up 2.8 percent from April levels.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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