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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR report: September rail traffic, car storage data suggest slow ongoing recovery


In September, U.S. carloads rose 7.7 percent compared with September 2009’s volume but declined 7.5 percent vs. September 2008’s level, according to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) “Rail Time Indicators Report” for October. Overall, railroads posted gains in 16 of 19 commodity groups, with coal, metallic ores, grain and crushed stone/sand/gravel registering significant year-over-year increases, the report states.

On a weekly basis, U.S. railroads last month averaged 297,502 carloads, the highest level since October 2008.

U.S. intermodal traffic in September jumped 17.3 percent vs. September 2009’s level and inched up 0.2 percent vs. September 2008’s volume. September is traditionally one of the year’s highest-volume months for intermodal because retailers begin to stock up for the holidays, AAR officials said in a prepared statement.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, September carloads increased 1.9 percent and intermodal loads decreased 0.1 percent from August levels.

"September was a steady month for rail traffic with new weekly records set in both carloads and intermodal," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. “That said, intermodal traffic gains can be attributed to the upcoming holiday season.”

Also in September, railroads brought 17,638 rail cars out of storage, the largest number since April 2010, according to the AAR. However, 331,074 cars — or about 21.6 percent of the nation’s rail-car fleet — remain in storage.

“The number of rail cars coming out of storage are not as significant as during the first few months of the year,” said Gray.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/12/2010