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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR weekly report: Intermodal demand drives U.S. roads' traffic gains


Chalk up another good week for U.S. railroads. During the week ending Feb. 19, they originated 296,980 carloads, up 8.2 percent, and 233,993 containers and trailers, up 16.9 percent compared with volumes from the same week in 2010, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Sixteen of 20 carload commodity groups registered gains. But intermodal traffic growth outpaced carload gains as railroads continued to prioritize intermodal loads during severe winter weather conditions “given the sensitivity of potential freight diversion to truck,” Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts said in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Intermodal remains the strongest rebounding commodity,” they said. “Following severe weather, weeks [No.] 6 and 7 absolute intermodal volumes are near all-time first-quarter highs for weekly results relative to the past decade, reflective of the ongoing growth momentum in intermodal.”

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly volume of 73,448 carloads, up 4.1 percent, and 46,489 intermodal loads, up 6.8 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads inched up 0.3 percent to 14,107 units and intermodal volume shot up 32.8 percent to 8,476 units.

Through 2011’s first seven weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 2.6 million carloads, up 5.1 percent, and 1.9 million containers and trailers, up 8.4 percent compared with traffic from the same 2010 period.

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

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/25/2011