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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. roads' monthly, quarterly traffic on uptick, AAR says


Last month, U.S. railroads capped off strong first-quarter traffic by increasing carloads 2.7 percent (33,954 units) and intermodal loads, 9.4 percent (63,859 units), compared with March 2002, according to Association of American Railroads data released April 3.

Even coal traffic increased, rising 1 percent (5,063 carloads) — the first time U.S. roads showed a monthly year-over-year carload improvement since December 2001.

"For more than a year, coal has suppressed total rail carloadings, so the turnaround for coal in March, though relatively limited, is certainly welcome," said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

During the first quarter, U.S. roads increased carloads 0.6 percent (23,582 units) and container moves, 13.0 percent (201,863 units), but decreased trailer moves 2.4 percent (14,148 units) compared with first-quarter 2002.
The roads' quarterly total volume of an estimated 366.8 billion ton-miles rose 0.5 percent.

Canadian railroads also increased carload and intermodal moves in March, 0.3 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively, compared with the same 2002 period. But coal carloads plummeted 21 percent, while metallic-ore carloads rose 40.9 percent and chemical carloads, 8.5 percent.

During the first quarter, Canadian roads moved 806,522 carloads, down 0.4 percent (2,852 units), and 514,568 trailers and containers, up 11.8 percent (54,132 units), compared with a similar 2002 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian roads in the first quarter moved 4,917,003 carloads, rising 0.4 percent (20,730 units), and 2,859,284 trailers and containers, increasing 9.2 percent (241,847 units) compared with first-quarter 2002.

For TFM S.A. de C.V., traffic just continues to build. In March, the railroad increased carloads 6.6 percent (2,263 units) and intermodal originations, 40.5 percent (4,279 units), compared with March 2002. For the quarter, carloads were up 10.4 percent (10,761 units) and intermodal originations, 49.7 percent (15,304 units), compared with last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/4/2003