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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR traffic tally: Despite a sluggish June, U.S. roads post positive second-quarter, first-half figures


U.S. railroads closed spring on a slightly sour note last month, moving 1.8 percent fewer carloads (24,083 units) compared with June 2002, according to Association of American Railroads data. Even the roads' intermodal traffic, which had recorded 5 percent-plus growth the previous five months, rose only 2.9 percent (22,419 trailers and containers) compared with the same 2002 period.

Despite carload gains in coke and coal (40.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively), 12 of 19 commodities tracked by AAR experienced carload declines.

However, the traffic news is better for the year's second quarter and first half. U.S. roads' carloads dipped and increased slightly by the same 0.2 percent mark in the second quarter and first half compared with the same 2002 periods. Intermodal traffic rose 4.3 percent (102,314 units) in the quarter and 6.4 percent (290,029 units) in the half, compared with similar periods last year. And volume during the first half totaled 739.7 billion ton-miles, rising 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads continued their carloads down/intermodal loads up trend in 2003. Last month, the roads moved 1.7 percent fewer carloads (4,364 units) but 5.6 percent more intermodal loads (9,115 units) compared with June 2002.

During the second quarter, Canadian roads moved 2.6 percent fewer carloads (21,800 units) but 7.2 percent more intermodal loads (37,504 units) compared with the same 2002 periods; During the first half, they moved 1.7 percent fewer carloads (27,900 units) and 9.5 percent more intermodal loads (92,611 units).

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through the year's first 26 weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 9,989,456 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 5,897,598 trailers and containers, up 6.9 percent, compared with 2002's first 26 weeks.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V. also has been moving fewer carloads and more intermodal shipments of late.

TFM's carloads dropped 4.2 percent (1,500 units) in June and 5.1 percent (5,955 units) in the second quarter compared with similar 2002 periods.

However, the road's first-half carloads rose 2.2 percent (4,806 units). TFM's intermodal originations increased 18.4 percent (2,337 units) in June, 20.8 percent (8,140 units) in the quarter and 33.6 percent (23,444 units) in the half.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/9/2003