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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR traffic tally: March caps off U.S. roads' first-quarter trifecta


In March, U.S. railroads increased carloads 3.7 percent after registering 3.0 percent and 2.5 percent increases in February and January, respectively, compared with similar 2003 periods — the roads' best three consecutive months since fall 1998, according to Association of American Railroads data.

U.S. roads also moved more trailers and containers last month, boosting intermodal traffic 9.3 percent compared with March 2003.

"With their strong carload and intermodal traffic, railroads are a major facilitator of the economic recovery that appears to be under way," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

During the first quarter, U.S. roads moved 4,297,662 carloads, up 3.1 percent — the highest quarterly increase since first-quarter 1997 — and 2,585,045 trailers and containers, up 7.3 percent compared with first-quarter 2003. Through 13 weeks, total volume reached an estimated 385 billion ton-miles, a 4.5 percent increase compared with last year.

March was an equally good month for Canadian roads' traffic — carloads and intermodal loads rose 11.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, compared with March 2003.

During the first quarter, Canadian roads moved 862,648 carloads, and 515,386 trailers and containers, a 6.7 percent increase and 1.2 percent decrease, respectively, compared with the same 2003 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 13 weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 5,160,346 carloads, up 3.7 percent, and 3,100,431 trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent compared with last year.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V.'s traffic continued to erode in March, with carloads and intermodal loads dropping 5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, compared with March 2003. During the first quarter, TFM moved 107,852 carloads, down 7.9 percent, and 45,315 trailers and containers, down 6.7 percent compared with the same 2003 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/13/2004