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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR weekly report: Rail traffic continues to outpace '09 levels


The pace has slowed somewhat since late summer, but U.S. rail traffic continues to outpace 2009 levels. During the week ending Nov. 13, U.S. railroads originated 297,269 carloads, up 5.8 percent, and 232,888 intermodal loads, up 11.9 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Sixteen of the 19 carload commodity groups registered gains, while container volume increased 12.8 percent and trailer volume rose 7.5 percent. However, intermodal traffic remained down 4 percent from mid-September’s peak primarily because of a weak peak season and low inventory levels, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Western railroads are 6 to 7 percent below 2010 peak levels, while eastern rails are only down 1 to 3 percent, reflective of moderating import volumes to the West Coast and continued domestic truckload conversion gains in the East,” they said. “That said, overall absolute volumes still remain above first-half levels, consistent with Union Pacific’s commentary of an elongated peak season into late November.”

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloadings of 77,578 units, up 8 percent, and intermodal loads of 49,298 units, up 19.1 percent year over year. For the week ending Nov. 13, Mexican railroads boosted carload volume 10.1 percent to 13,973 units and increased intermodal volume 10 percent to 7,487 units.

Through 2010’s first 45 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 16.8 million carloads, up 9.6 percent, and 12.3 million containers and trailers, up 14.9 percent year over year.

For more AAR traffic data for the week ending Nov. 13 and through 45 weeks, follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/19/2010