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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. roads seven-for-seven in monthly gains on both sides of traffic equation; others not hitting intermodal stride


U.S. railroads' year-long traffic surge continued last month. The roads moved 1,299,916 carloads, up 1 percent, and 837,317 trailers and containers, up 7.5 percent compared with July 2003, according to Association of American Railroads data.

Commodities registering carload increases include non-metallic minerals (15.9 percent), metallic ores (9.2 percent), metals and metal products (8.6 percent), chemicals (2.9 percent) and coal (2.1 percent); commodities showing carload declines include motor vehicles and equipment (9.2 percent), crushed stone and gravel (6 percent), and grain (5.8 percent).

During the year's first seven months, U.S. roads moved 10,021,686 carloads, up 3.6 percent, and 6,172,396 trailers and containers, up 9.3 percent compared with similar 2003 data. Total estimated volume of 904.7 billion ton-miles rose 4.8 percent.

"U.S. rail traffic growth remains good, reflecting the economic gains we're experiencing across a variety of industry sectors," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

Canadian roads registered traffic gains in July, too, but only on the carload side, which increased 7.8 percent to 254,568 units compared with July 2003. Intermodal traffic totaling 168,141 trailers and containers dropped 2.9 percent.

The roads maintained that same traffic pattern during the year's first seven months, moving 2,006,764 carloads, up 8.7 percent, and 1,242,724 trailers and containers, down 0.2 percent compared with similar 2003 data.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 30 weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads increased carloads 4.4 percent to 12,028,450 units, and intermodal loads 7.6 percent to 7,415,120 trailers and containers compared with last year.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V. continues to add carloads in recent months, but intermodal traffic has been a year-long struggle. In July, the road moved 32,236 carloads, up 2.9 percent, and 13,097 intermodal loads, down 0.3 percent. Through 30 weeks, TFM's carloads totaling 255,213 units declined 0.9 percent and intermodal loads totaling 106,990 units dropped 0.5 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/6/2004