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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR data: October best-ever month in U.S. road' intermodal history


Despite a year-over-year comparison affected by October 2002's 10-day West Coast port shutdown, October was the top month in U.S. railroads' intermodal traffic history, registering an 18.1 percent increase, according to Association of American Railroads. October included five of the roads' six highest-ever weekly totals.

U.S. roads didn't fare too badly in monthly carloads either, recording a 1.6 percent increase compared with October 2002.

"[It was] the first month since April 2003 — and only the third month so far this year — in which U.S. rail carload volumes were up compared with last year," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

During the month, 13 of 19 major commodity categories tracked by AAR recorded carload gains, including coke (up 46.6 percent), crushed stone and gravel (7.8 percent), chemicals (4.8 percent) and grain (5.1 percent).

During the year's first 10 months, U.S. roads moved 14,356,078 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 8,403,755 trailers or containers, up 6.5 percent compared with the same 2002 period. AAR estimates total rail volume at 1.3 trillion ton-miles, a 1.2 percent increase.

October also was kind to Canadian roads, which increased carloads 6.5 percent and intermodal loads, 2.4 percent, compared with October 2002. During the year's first 10 months, Canadian roads moved 2,740,695 carloads, down 0.3 percent, and 1,836,489 trailers or containers, up 6.7 percent compared with last year.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 10 months, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 17,096,773 carloads, a 0.1 percent drop, and 10,240,244 trailers and containers, a 6.6 percent rise compared with the same 2002 period.

For TFM S.A. de C.V., October carloads and intermodal originations dropped 8.0 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. However during the year's first 10 months, TFM's carloads declined 2.0 percent but intermodal traffic rose 14.7 percent compared with the same 2002 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/7/2003