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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. railroads made several more traffic strides in August, AAR says


Strong grain and crude traffic in August helped U.S. railroads boost carloads 2.9 percent to 1,212,287 units compared with August 2013 volume, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Carloads averaged 303,072 units per week, the highest weekly average in any month since October 2011 and the most for an August since 2008.

Fifteen of 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR registered gains in August, led by petroleum and petroleum products at 25.2 percent, grain at 16 percent, and crushed stone, sand and gravel at 14.4 percent. Weekly grain carloads averaged 19,326 units, the highest for an August since 2010.

U.S. railroads also originated 1,075,688 containers and trailers in August, up 4.3 percent versus August 2013’s total. The weekly average of 268,922 intermodal units was the second-highest ever, only slightly trailing the all-time-best average set in June, AAR officials said in a press release.

Combined U.S. traffic reached 2,287,975 units in August, up 3.5 percent year over year, while weekly volume averaged 571,994 units.
"Average weekly U.S. rail volume, in terms of carloads plus intermodal containers and trailers, was higher in August 2014 than in any month since October 2007," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. "The broad range of commodities that are seeing higher rail volumes is a welcome sign for the economy."

For the week ending Aug. 30, U.S. railroads originated 305,751 carloads, up 1.3 percent, and 273,458 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent. Canadian railroads’ weekly carloads rose 4.2 percent to 84,974 units and their intermodal volume climbed 13.1 percent to 63,880 units, while Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads declined 6.6 percent to 15,659 units and intermodal volume jumped 14.7 percent to 12,926 units.

Through 2014’s first 35 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 13,448,861 carloads, up 3.1 percent, and 11,356,895 containers and trailers, up 5.9 percent compared with the same 2013 period.

The AAR also reported that U.S. Class Is in the second quarter originated 119,634 carloads of crude, up 8.6 percent from the first quarter’s level and the highest-ever volume in any quarter. In the first half, crude oil accounted for 1.6 percent of the Class Is’ total originated carloads.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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