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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR traffic update: U.S., Canadian roads and TFM didn't make hay with carloads in May


A pair of weather-related derailments in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin last month did more than knock a couple of BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad coal trains off track. The accidents derailed U.S. railroads’ monthly carload traffic for the first time in more than a year. The roads’ May carloads totaling 1,374,661 units dropped 0.1 percent compared with May 2004, according to Association of American Railroads data.

Coal carloads totaling 517,557 units dropped 2.2 percent compared with last year.

“Had coal traffic levels in May not changed from last year, overall U.S. carloadings would have risen by some 11,000 units, or 1.3 percent,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

In the good news department, U.S. roads last month moved 893,384 intermodal loads, a 4.6 percent increase compared with May 2004

In addition, the roads’ year-to-date traffic figures are still going strong. During 2005’s first five months, the roads moved 7,174,250 carloads, up 2 percent, and 4,559,923 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared with the same 2004 period. Total estimated volume of 667.6 ton-miles rose 2.8 percent.

Canadian railroads didn’t have a banner May either. The roads’ carloads totaling 282,350 units decreased 1.8 percent and intermodal loads totaling 173,403 units dropped 0.8 percent compared with May 2004.

However, through the year’s first five months, Canadian roads boosted carloads 0.3 percent to 1,475,948 units and increased intermodal loads 3 percent to 887,059 units compared with last year.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through five months, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 8,650,198 carloads, up 1.7 percent, and 5,446,982 trailers and containers, up 6.1 percent compared with a similar 2004 period.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V. saw May carloads drop, as well. The road’s 34,282 carloads dipped 5.8 percent compared with May 2004. However, May intermodal loads totaling 16,285 units rose 6.3 percent. Through five months, TFM’s carloads totaling 181,560 units and intermodal loads totaling 80,825 units increased 1.6 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively, compared with last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/3/2005