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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. rail traffic returns to mixed-result mode, AAR data shows


For the week ending Oct. 5, U.S. railroads registered 279,128 carloads, down 1.6 percent, and 266,580 intermodal loads, up 6.2 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads data.

Total U.S. rail traffic rose 2.1 percent to 545,708 units. Seven of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by motor vehicles and parts (12.3 percent), and metallic ores and metals (10.1 percent).

Coal volume tumbled 11.4 percent, with "significant weakness" noted in the West, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report. Excluding coal carloads, non-intermodal carloads grew 6 percent, they said.

The Energy Information Administration's "Short-Term Energy Outlook" report shows third-quarter coal supplies in the Appalachian and Western regions have increased 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively, and Interior region supplies have decreased 2 percent year over year, Baird analysts said.

However, "production in all regions is anticipated to grow in the fourth quarter and in 2014," they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 87,059 carloads and 59,654 intermodal loads for the week ending Oct. 5, up 8.4 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Mexican railroads reported a 1.1 percent dip in carloads to 14,686 units and a 7.5 percent drop in intermodal traffic to 10,795 units.

Through 2013's first 40 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 14,974,758 carloads, down 0.1 percent, and 12,362,840 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/11/2013