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U.S. railroads posted a slight decrease — 0.2 percent — in carload traffic last month, but logged a 2.5 percent increase in intermodal volume compared with November 2017, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.Combined, U.S. carload and intermodal volume inched up 1.2 percent to 2,132,882 units last month over the same month a year ago.In November, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories that AAR tracks on a monthly basis posted gains compared with November 2017. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 11,674 carloads or 29 percent; all other carloads, up 2,920 carloads or 13.7 percent; and primary metal products, up 2,636 carloads or 7.9 percent.Commodities that logged declines in November included crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 12,090 carloads or 12.8 percent; motor vehicles and parts, down 3,704 carloads or 5.5 percent; and coal, down 2,840 carloads or 0.8 percent."Rail traffic was not as strong in November as in other recent months. Total carloads fell for the first time in nine months, in part because of lower carloads of frac sand, while intermodal grew only modestly," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release.November might be a temporary correction as shippers "rebalance inventories," he said."However, it would be prudent to keep an eye on forward-looking economic indicators," Gray added. "It's much too soon to sound an economic alarm, but there is uncertainty, especially regarding trade policy, that is causing volatility in markets railroads serve."For the first 11 months of 2018, U.S. carload traffic increased 1.7 percent to 12,618,663 units, while intermodal volume climbed 5.5 percent to 13,376,733 containers and trailers on a year-over-year basis.
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