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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. railroads' carload traffic finally succumbs to weather-related woes, AAR says


U.S. railroads were able to weather two hurricanes, but two other recent weather-related events have taken a toll on the roads’ carload traffic. During the week ending Oct. 8, the railroads moved 324,894 carloads, a 4.6 percent drop compared with the same 2004 week, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

“Volume was affected by … lingering effects from hurricanes Rita and Katrina, massive thunderstorms that dumped up to one foot of rain on parts of Kansas and Tropical Storm Tammy, which dropped large amounts of rain along much of the Eastern Seaboard,” AAR officials said in a prepared statement.

However, U.S. railroads continued to post weekly intermodal volume records. During the period ending Oct. 8, the railroads moved 244,835 trailers and containers, a 6.3 percent increase compared with the same 2004 week and the roads’ all-time third-highest weekly volume.

During 2005’s first 40 weeks, U.S. railroads moved 13.3 million carloads, up 1.3 percent, and 8.9 million trailers and containers, up 6.3 percent compared with the same 2004 period. Total estimated volume of 1.28 trillion ton-miles rose 2.1 percent.

Canadian railroads also moved fewer carloads but more intermodal loads the past week. During the period ending Oct. 8, the railroads’ carloads totaling 77,760 units dropped 7.1 percent and intermodal loads totaling 47,135 units rose 6.0 percent compared with the same 2004 week.

Through 40 weeks, Canadian railroads moved 3 million carloads, down 0.7 percent, and 1.7 million intermodal loads, up 3.0 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 40 weeks, reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads boosted carloads 0.9 percent to 16.3 million units and increased intermodal moves 5.7 percent to 10.6 million trailers and containers compared with 2004’s first 40 weeks.

In Mexico, TFM S.A. de C.V. made the weekly carload decline unanimous. During the period ending Oct. 8, TFM moved 7,994 carloads, down 16.2 percent compared with the same 2004 week. The railroad’s weekly intermodal loads declined, too, dropping 7.3 percent to 4,080 units. Through 40 weeks, TFM moved 335,943 carloads, down 3.0 percent, and 153,118 trailers and containers, up 3.5 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/14/2005