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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR report: U.S. roads' weekly intermodal volume reaches 18-month high


U.S. railroads continue to rack up more carloads and intermodal loads of late. During the week ending May 15, they originated 290,263 carloads, up 16.6 percent, and 218,206 intermodal loads, up 15.2 percent compared with traffic from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Carloads climbed in 18 of 19 commodity groups and intermodal volume reached its highest weekly level since 2008’s 47th week, the AAR said.

So far in the second quarter, U.S. railroads’ average weekly carloads are up 5 percent compared with first-quarter levels, bettering the seasonal 10-year average of 3 percent from 1Q to 2Q, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.'s weekly “Rail Flash” report.

In terms of intermodal, BNSF Railway Co. is the only U.S. Class I whose volumes haven’t been near or above 2008 levels in recent weeks, Baird analysts said in the report. A main reason: the Hub Group Inc.’s recent volume transition from BNSF to Union Pacific Railroad, they said.

“We expect both domestic and international intermodal growth to continue given ongoing domestic truckload conversion and economic growth,” Baird analysts said.

Meanwhile, for the week ending May 15, Canadian railroads reported 72,825 carloads, up 36.4 percent, and 48,272 intermodal loads, up 20.3 percent year over year. Mexican railroads increased their weekly carload volume 14.8 percent to 13,573 units and boosted intermodal volume 18.9 percent to 6,581 units.
Through 2010’s first 19 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 7 million carloads, up 9.3 percent, and 4.9 million containers and trailers, up 10.7 percent year over year.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending May 15 and through 19 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/21/2010