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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal loads increase for U.S., Canadian roads in November, but carload fortunes differ, AAR says


The traffic winds were favorable in November for U.S. railroads, which increased carloads 0.8 percent (10,176 units) and intermodal loads, 6.4 percent (44,295 units) compared with November 2001, according to Association of American Railroads data released Dec. 5.

Reporting roads moved more carloads of metallic ores (38.6 percent), coke (21.6 percent), waste and scrap material (10.4 percent), primary metals and metal products (9.0 percent), and chemicals (up 4.4 percent).

"Much of the increase in carloadings can be tied to the steel sector — domestic raw-steel production in November was up 22 percent over November 2001," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

However, U.S. roads moved fewer carloads of crushed stone and gravel (7.9 percent), grain and mill products (6.0 percent), and coal (3.5 percent) compared with the same 2001 period.

And through the year's first 11 months, U.S. roads moved 15,879,018 carloads, down 0.9 percent (141,504 units) compared with the same period last year.

But intermodal remains a year-long bright spot: The roads moved 8,656,597 trailers and containers through November, up 4.2 percent (352,897 units).

AAR estimates total U.S. volume at 1.37 trillion ton-miles through November, a 0.7 percent increase compared with last year.

November brought mixed traffic results for Canadian roads, which moved 19.8 percent more intermodal loads but 3.2 percent fewer carloads compared with November 2001.

During the year's first 11 months, Canadian roads moved 2,874,063 carloads, down 2.7 percent (79,661 units), and 1,875,633 trailers and containers, up 11.0 percent (185,997 units) compared with the same period last year.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads through November moved 18,753,081 carloads, declining 1.2 percent (221,165 units), and 10,532,230 trailers and containers, rising 5.4 percent (538,894 units) compared with last year.

South of the U.S. border, TFM S.A. de C.V. recorded explosive traffic growth in November by moving 45 percent more carloads (11,328 units) and 129.1 percent more intermodal loads (8,541 units) compared with November 2001.

During the year's first 11 months, TFM increased carloads 14.9 percent (49,278 units) and intermodal loads, 33.0 percent (36,605 units).