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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal trend continues for U.S., Canadian railroads in Week 6


Intermodal volumes continued their upward trend for U.S. railroads, which posted a 3.7 percent increase in containers and trailers for the week ending Feb. 10 compared with the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

U.S. railroads' total traffic volume for the week rose 1.6 percent to 519,545 carloads and intermodal units compared with the same week in 2017. However, carload traffic slipped 0.5 percent to 251,058 units compared with a year ago.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR tracks on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,046 carloads to 31,551; chemicals, up 1,224 carloads to 31,782; and metallic ores and metals, up 1,010 carloads to 20,396.

Commodity groups that logged decreases compared with the same week last year were coal, down 3,729 carloads, to 85,591; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,980 carloads, to 16,693; and grain, down 1,442 carloads, to 19,035.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads also logged a decrease in carload traffic but an increase in intermodal volume during the week compared with last year: Carloads were down 3.1 percent to 73,983, while intermodal units were up 2.5 percent to 63,526.

Mexican railroads reported decreases in both carload and intermodal activity. They logged 19,619 carloads, down 8.9 percent; and 16,164 intermodal units, also down 8.9 percent.

For the first six weeks of 2018 compared with the same period a year ago:
• U.S. railroads reported total combined traffic of 3,047,091 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.3 percent;
• Canadian railroads logged  cumulative rail traffic volume of 832,704 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent; and
• Mexican railroads posted cumulative volume of 221,760 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.8 percent.