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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Here's a switch: U.S. carloads climbed, intermodal volume fell in week 26


June's last full week ended with U.S. rail traffic registering a familiar result: mixed. But it wasn't carloads that were the down side of the equation this time.

For the week ending June 29, U.S. carloads ratcheted up 1 percent to 281,367 while intermodal volume dipped 1.5 percent to 249,673 units compared with totals from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads. Total U.S. traffic declined 0.2 percent to 531,040 units.

Eastern intermodal volume climbed 5 percent for the week while western intermodal volume was flat, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.'s weekly "Rail Flash" report. BNSF Railway Co.'s and Union Pacific Railroad's volumes were soft in the second quarter — both decelerating from the first quarter — which was consistent with anecdotes of domestic intermodal softness off the West Coast, Baird analysts said in the report.

"Industry contacts cited weakness in dry van truckload in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, indicative of a softer retail/consumer environment in June," they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 75,038, down 3.8 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 53,920 intermodal units, down 1.2 year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 13.9 percent to 17,077 and their intermodal volume was relatively flat (down 0.1 percent) at 10,384 units.

Through 2013's first half, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 9,650,841 carloads, down 0.4 percent, and 7,878,808 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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