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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. roads' May traffic produces mixed results


U.S. railroads' May carload traffic broke a 2003 tie, but didn't end up in the win column. After carload declines in January and February, and carload increases in March and April, U.S. roads' carloads fell 0.3 percent (3,588 units) last month compared with May 2002, according to Association of American Railroads data released June 5.

Last month, U.S. roads moved more carloads of coke (49.8 percent), pulp and paper (6.5 percent), crushed stone and gravel (3.1 percent), and coal (1.3 percent), but fewer carloads of metallic ores (7.5 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (5.6 percent), and chemicals (4.4 percent).

"A [recent] survey of 35 top economists by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia predicted a significant improvement in the overall economic growth rate for the second half of this year compared with recent periods," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "More robust growth would certainly help rail carloadings."

U.S. intermodal traffic continues to grow — roads' May intermodal loads rose 4.9 percent (35,077 containers and trailers) compared with May 2002.

During the year's first five months, U.S. roads moved 7,053,266 carloads, up 0.6 percent (38,778 units), and 4,046,784 trailers and containers, up 7.1 percent (267,610 units) compared with the same 2002 period. AAR estimates total volume at 623.7 billion ton-miles, rising 0.9 percent.

North of the U.S. border, Canadian roads carload traffic continued a year-long downward spiral last month, dropping 4.0 percent (10,322 units) compared with May 2002. But the roads' monthly intermodal traffic increased 9.5 percent (14,844 units).

During the year's first five months, Canadian roads moved 1,361,714 carloads, down 1.7 percent (23,536 units), and 894,738 trailers and containers, up 10.3 percent (83,496 units) compared with the same 2002 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 22 weeks, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads moved 8,414,980 carloads, up 0.2 percent (15,242 units), and 4,941,520 trailers and containers, rising 7.6 percent (351,106 units) compared with 2002's first 22 weeks.

South of the U.S. border, TFM S.A. de C.V. increased May carloads 13.1 percent (4,436 units) and year-to-date carloads 5.3 percent (9,838 units); and increased May intermodal originations 37.4 (4,539 trailers and containers) and year-to-date intermodal originations 38.9 percent (22,234 trailers and containers).

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/6/2003