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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR on week No. 31: Carloads up in all three North American rail sectors


For the week ending Aug. 4, U.S. railroads registered 288,229 carloads, up 0.4 percent, and 243,261 containers and trailers, up 3.3 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Thirteen of 20 carload commodity groups posted gain, led by petroleum products (56.3 percent), lumber and wood products (29 percent), and grain (11.2 percent). Iron and steel scrap loads fell 19.7 percent, metallic ores traffic dropped 13.3 percent and farm products volume excluding grain declined 13.2 percent.

Automotive carloads, which have consistently grown by double digits since fourth-quarter 2011, were up 17 percent for the week, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report. In addition, railroads continued to note solid domestic intermodal growth as a result of truckload conversions, with western loads up 1 percent and eastern volumes up 9 percent for the week.

The four U.S. Class Is also have noted something else of late: improved intermodal network speeds, Baird analysts said. So far in the third quarter, on a year-over-year basis, BNSF Railway Co.’s speed is up 3 percent; CSX Transportation’s, 6 percent; Norfolk Southern Railway’s, 5 percent; and Union Pacific Railroad's, 1 percent, they said.
For the week ending Aug. 4, Canadian railroads registered 77,630 carloads, up 6.8 percent, and 53,283 containers and trailers, up 12.7 percent year over year. Mexican railroads increased carloads 9.1 percent to 15,168 units and boosted intermodal volume 18.4 percent to 10,796 units.
Through 2012’s first 31 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 11,533,601 carloads, down 1.3 percent, and 9,105,593 containers and trailers, up 4.6 percent compared with the same 2011 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/10/2012