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5/9/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

April traffic: U.S. roads carried a tad more carloads and intermodal loads, AAR says


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Last month, U.S. railroads moved slightly more carloads and intermodal shipments compared with April 2002, according to Association of American Railroads data released May 8. Carloads rose 1.2 percent (18,784 units) and intermodal loads, 4.9 percent (44,818 units).


Carload gains were paced by increased moves of coke (41 percent); waste and scrap materials (10.6 percent); metallic ores (8.2 percent); and coal (2.3 percent).


"Relatively low coal stockpiles at electric utilities and electricity demand that has started to grow with the warmer weather have translated into higher coal carloadings for the past couple of months," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.


However, carloads of petroleum products decreased 10.6 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, 4.1 percent; and chemicals, 2.6 percent, compared with April 2002.


During 2003's first four months, U.S. roads increased carloads 0.7 percent (42,366 units) and intermodal loads, 7.6 percent (232,533 units) compared with the same 2002 period. AAR estimates total volume at 510 billion ton-miles, a 0.9 percent increase compared with 2002's first four months.


The monthly traffic news is mixed for Canadian roads. In April, carloads dropped 2.1 percent (7,114 units) — dampened by an 11 percent decrease in grain moves — but intermodal loads rose 6.8 percent (13,545 units) compared with April 2002.


Canadian roads followed the same traffic pattern during 2003's first four months: carloads dipped 1.2 percent (13,214 units) and intermodal loads rose 10.5 percent (68,652 units) compared with the same 2002 period.


On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads through April moved 6,866,676 carloads, up 0.4 percent, and 4,018,530 trailers and containers, up 8.1 percent compared with 2002's first four months.


In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V. increased April carloads 11.4 percent (5,359 units) and monthly intermodal originations, 16.8 percent (2,391 units), compared with April 2002. Through 2003's first four months, TFM's carloads rose 3.6 percent (5,402 units) and intermodal originations, 39.3 percent (17,695 units), compared with the same 2002 period.


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