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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. roads set ton-miles, intermodal load records in 2005, AAR says


Last year, U.S. railroads not only continued to build upon traffic that gained steam in 2004’s latter half, they set a couple of records. Estimated volume of 1.69 trillion ton-miles and intermodal loads totaling 11.7 million units — which increased 2.4 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, compared with 2004 — established annual high-water marks, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Full-year carloads totaling 17.2 million units rose 0.9 percent compared with 2004.

“U.S. railroads handled more traffic in 2005 than ever before,” said AAR Vice President Craig Rockey in a prepared statement.

In December, U.S. roads moved 1.2 million carloads, up 1.8 percent, and 873,301 trailers and containers, up 9.6 percent compared with December 2004. During the fourth quarter, the railroads’ carloads totaling 4.2 million units decreased 0.8 percent but intermodal loads totaling 3 million units increased 6.6 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

At 2005’s end, Canadian railroads’ carloads remained in the red and intermodal traffic stayed well in the black. Carloads totaling 3.9 million units fell 1 percent and intermodal loads totaling 2.2 million units rose 4 percent compared with 2004.

In December, Canadian railroads moved 280,651 carloads and 160,100 intermodal loads, a 1.1 percent and 12 percent increase, respectively, compared with December 2004. Fourth-quarter carloads totaling 976,074 units dropped 2.6 percent but intermodal loads totaling 578,190 units rose 7.5 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

On a combined cumulative-volume basis through 2005, 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads moved 21.1 million carloads, up 0.5 percent, and 13.9 million trailers and containers, up 6 percent compared with 2004.

In Mexico, Kansas City Southern de México (formerly TFM) remained in a carload slump at year’s end. After logging 29,171 carloads in December — 18.4 percent fewer compared with December 2004 — the railroad finished the year with 427,128 carloads, a 5.8 percent decrease compared with 2004. The road fared better with intermodal traffic. Although December trailers and containers totaling 12,818 units fell 8.7 percent, full-year intermodal loads totaling 198,245 rose 1.2 percent compared with 2004.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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