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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. roads' intermodal up, carloads down saga holds true through 2002


After trailing their 2001 monthly carload totals for much of the year, U.S. railroads finished 2002 with 0.7 percent fewer carloads (114,598) on their ledgers compared with the previous year.
But 2002's end provided cause for optimism: U.S. roads moved 0.2 percent (9,436) more carloads in the fourth quarter and 2.2 percent (26,906) more in December compared with similar 2001 periods, according to Association of American Railroads data released Jan. 3.
The roads' intermodal traffic finished strong, too, rising 2.5 percent (57,341 containers and trailers) in the fourth quarter and 9.7 percent (61,289) in December compared with the same 2001 periods.
Intermodal was a year-long success story for U.S. roads, which moved 4.6 percent (414,186) more containers and trailers in 2002 compared with 2001, and handled a record-high 9.35 million units.
"Obviously, we’re pleased to have set another intermodal record — an indication that the intermodal partnerships between railroads, motor carriers and steamship lines are working extremely well," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement. "We also [hope] carload gains in the second half of the year … will continue into 2003.
Last year, U.S. roads total volume reached an estimated 1.48 trillion ton-miles, a 0.5 percent increase compared with 2001.
For Canadian roads, the carload blues continued throughout 2002. Carloads decreased 2.7 percent (86,173) for the entire year, 2.3 percent (18,257) in the fourth quarter and 3.0 percent (6,512) in December compared with similar 2001 periods.
But the roads' intermodal traffic was rocking, increasing 12.0 percent (217,726 trailers and containers) in 2002, 18.8 percent (86,078) in the fourth quarter and 25.2 percent (31,729) in December compared with the same 2001 periods.
On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads in 2002 moved 20.2 million carloads, down 1.0 percent (200,771 units), and 11.3 million trailers and containers, up 5.9 percent (631,912 units) compared with 2001.
For TFM S.A. de C.V., 2002 brought both carload and intermodal increases. The Mexican road moved 15.7 percent (56,197) more carloads, and 36.3 percent (42,390) more containers and trailers compared with 2001. In December, TFM moved 26.0 percent more carloads, and 96.1 percent more containers and trailers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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