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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR week No. 11 report: U.S. carloads continue to lag 2011


U.S. carloads continued to trail last year’s pace into mid-March. During the week ending March 17, U.S. railroads originated 278,420 carloads, down 5.3 percent, and 227,138 containers and trailers, up 2 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Only 11 of 20 carload commodity groups posted gains. Loads of farm products excluding grain fell 21.9 percent and coal volume declined 14.7 percent.

Chemical traffic increased 2 percent, buoyed by continued strength in petroleum products, which offset a 6 percent decline in basic chemical volume, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Weaker basic chemical year-over-year trends are worth monitoring as they could potentially indicate softening demand, given their importance as [traffic] inputs,” they said.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 77,876 carloads for the week, up 3.2 percent year over year. Their intermodal volume inched up 1.4 percent to 46,200 units. For the week ending March 17, Mexican railroads reported 14,607 carloads, down 1.3 percent, and 9,481 containers and trailers, up 36.5 percent compared with volumes from the same 2011 period.
Through 2012’s first 11 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 4,089,038 carloads, down 0.4 percent, and 3,078,730 containers and trailers, up 3.4 percent versus the year-ago period.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending March 17 and through 11 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/23/2012