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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. roads' weekly intermodal volume climbed to four-year high


Intermodal drove U.S. railroads’ traffic gains in the year’s 38th week, which ended Sept. 24. They originated 248,402 containers and trailers, up 3 percent compared with volume from the same week last year and the highest level since 2007's 39th week, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The gains were supported by “secular Eastern intermodal rail growth” as western intermodal volumes remained well below peak 2006 levels, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Rail commentary reflects expectations for a later, muted peak season in September/October, consistent with the peak result in five of the past 10 years,” they said.

U.S. railroads also originated 305,133 carloads, up 1.1 percent year over year. Thirteen of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by metallic ores (21 percent), petroleum products (16.1 percent), and metals and products (16 percent).
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 79,518 units, up 3.5 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 52,681 units, up 2.5 percent. Mexican railroads increased weekly carloads 2.6 percent to 14,928 units and boosted intermodal volume 24.4 percent to 10,042 units.
Through 2011’s first 38 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 14.4 million carloads, up 2 percent, and 10.8 million containers and trailers, up 5.3 percent compared with volumes from the same 2010 period. The roads’ combined intermodal volume of 311,125 units for the week ending Sept. 24 set a record and rose 3.5 percent vs. last year, according to the AAR.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending Sept. 24 and through 38 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/30/2011