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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Year-long intermodal up, carloads down trend continues in U.S.


For the week ending Sept. 22, U.S. railroads originated 292,644 carloads, down 4.1 percent, and 250,253 containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Only nine of 20 carload commodity groups posted increases, led by petroleum products (54 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (13.2 percent), and food and kindred products (11.5 percent). Metallic ores volume fell 33.3 percent, coal loads dropped 12.1 percent and metal carloads declined 10.8 percent.

In the coal sector, railroads have noted that utilities' inventories are declining, but likely will remain elevated into 2013, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"Recent NS commentary [also] noted weaker export coal trends given global macroeconomic conditions," they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 80,271 carloads for the week ending Sept. 22, a 1 percent increased compared with the same week last year. Their intermodal volume rose 10.1 percent to 57,888 units. Mexican railroads reported 15,280 weekly carloads, up 3.2 percent, and 11,453 intermodal loads, up 11.7 percent.

Through 2012's first 38 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 14,213,618 carloads, down 1.3 percent, and 11,268,010 containers and trailers, up 4.6 percent year over year.