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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal business continues to boom, carloads creep up for U.S. roads, AAR says


Intermodal traffic remained strong for U.S. railroads through September and the third quarter, rising 7.0 percent (50,974 units) and 7.7 percent (176,909 units), respectively, compared with similar 2001 periods, according to Association of American Railroads data released Oct. 3.

"Intermodal has grown so quickly, and is doing so well now, because railroads offer reliable, timely service that saves fuel, reduces highway congestion and saves shippers substantial amounts of money, as well," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

U.S. roads increased carloads during those periods, too: 1.2 percent (16,801 units) in September and 1.8 percent (76,992 units) in the third quarter.

During the quarter, U.S. roads moved more carloads of metallic ores (22.4 percent), non-metallic minerals (10.8 percent), metal products (7.0 percent), and motor vehicles and equipment (4.9 percent) compared with third-quarter 2001. However, the railroads moved fewer carloads of grain (3.1 percent) and coal (0.4 percent).

Through 2002's first 39 weeks, U.S. roads moved 7,029,342 trailers and containers (up 5.3 percent), and 12,834,502 carloads (down 1.0 percent).

AAR estimated total volume during that period at 1.1 trillion ton-miles, rising 1.0 percent compared with the same 2001 period.
For Canadian railroads, intermodal traffic rose 14.8 percent (21,400 units) in September and 15.1 percent (68,594 units) in the third quarter, while carload traffic dipped 1.0 percent (2,350 units) in September and 2.5 percent (19,115 units) in the quarter, compared with similar 2001 periods.

Canadian roads through the year's first 39 weeks moved 1,488,526 trailers and containers (up 9.7 percent), and 2,321,316 carloads (down 2.8 percent).

On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads during 2002's first 39 weeks moved 15,155,818 carloads (down 1.3 percent), and 8,517,868 trailers and containers (up 6.1 percent).

For TFM S.A. de C.V., carload-traffic news was good in September (up 54.5 percent), the second quarter (up 21.3 percent) and year to date (up 8.2 percent) compared with similar 2001 figures.

TFM's intermodal business showed similar gains: The railroad originated 48.8 percent more units in September, 28.0 percent more in the second quarter and 19.8 percent more during 2002's first 39 weeks compared with last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/4/2002