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U.S. railroads in 2014 registered 28,673,776 carloads and intermodal loads, up 1,233,184 units, or 4.5 percent, compared with 2013's total and the highest annual tally since 2007, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Carloads totaled 15,176,835, up 3.9 percent year over year and the highest annual level since 2008. Intermodal volume reached a record 13,496,941 units, up 5.2 percent, or 665,630 units over the previous record set in 2013. Overall, 18 of 20 carload commodity categories posted gains last year, including grain at 13.5 percent, petroleum and petroleum products at 12.7 percent, crushed stone, sand and gravel at 11.6 percent, and coal at 1 percent.
"2014 was a challenging year for America's freight railroads as they responded to traffic surges and shifts in traffic patterns," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release. "This will be another busy year as the economy continues to grow and the nation's railroads work to be responsive, flexible and efficient for their customers."In December, U.S. railroads originated 1,444,450 carloads, up 8.9 percent — the largest year-over-year gain for monthly carloads in four years, AAR officials said. Intermodal totaled 1,188,364 units, up 3.7 percent, continuing a five-year trend of monthly gains.For the week ending Jan. 3, U.S. railroads registered 260,526 carloads, up 5.4 percent, and 185,675 intermodal loads, down 0.7 percent. Total combined traffic rose 2.8 percent to 446,201 units.Canadian railroads' weekly carloads climbed 20.8 percent to 76,422 units and their intermodal volume rose 7.6 percent to 45,238 units, while Mexican railroads' carloads dropped 7.1 percent to 10,217 units and intermodal volume jumped 24.1 percent to 6,516 units.During what, for reporting purposes, was a 53rd week in 2014 (ending Jan. 3), 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads collectively handled 347,165 carloads, up 8 percent, and 237,429 containers and trailers, up 1.3 percent compared with volumes from the same week in 2013, AAR officials said.