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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal volumes lifted U.S. rail traffic in September


U.S. railroads' intermodal volumes boosted combined rail traffic to a 0.7 percent gain last month compared with traffic in September 2016, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Carload traffic for U.S. railroads declined 2.3 percent to 1,044,563 units, while intermodal volumes rose 3.8 percent to 1,080,444 containers and trailers in September compared with the same month last year, according to an AAR press release.

Combined, U.S. railroads reported combined carload and intermodal volumes of   2,125,007, up 0.7 percent, or 15,376 carloads and intermodal units last month from September 2016.

Eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR each month posted gains compared with September 2016. They included crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 8,845 carloads or 9.3 percent; primary metal products, up 3,877 carloads or 11.8 percent; and metallic ores, up 3,163 carloads or 13.6 percent.

Commodities that logged declines compared with the same period a year ago included grain, down 16,329 carloads or 16.7 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, down 7,267 carloads or 17.0 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, down 7,203 carloads or 9.8 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 3 percent in September 2017 from September 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 0.8 percent.

The last two weeks of the month were the top two intermodal weeks in history for U.S. and Canadian railroads, said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray.

"As our economy and population grow, consumer spending will grow too, and intermodal will continue to be the best way to get many goods to consumers," he said. "We're confident that the tremendous efforts railroads have been expending in recent years to improve service and enhance capacity will translate into continued intermodal gains."

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first nine months of the year climbed 3.8 percent to 10,106,660 units, while intermodal volume rose 3.5 percent to 10,432,552 containers and trailers. 

Year over year, total combined U.S. rail traffic for the nine-month period grew 3.6 percent to 20,539,212 carloads and intermodal units.

Meanwhile, for the first 39 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,639,672 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2017 was 1,062,032 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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