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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. roads tallied traffic gains in week No. 51


In the year's second-to-last week, U.S. railroads accomplished something that was relatively rare in 2012: year-over-year gains in both carload and intermodal volumes. For the week ending Dec. 22, they handled 290,223 carloads, up 0.9 percent, and 240,119 containers and trailers, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2011, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Fifteen of 20 carload commodity groups posted increases, led by petroleum products (71.5 percent), crushed stone, sand and gravel (29.5 percent), and lumber and wood products (27.3 percent). Chemical volume rose 19 percent primarily because petroleum product shipments jumped 53 percent, benefiting from continued secular growth in shale-related carloads, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

On the down side, U.S. roads' metallic ores and coal volume dropped 26.3 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively.

Canadian railroads reported 79,734 carloads for week No. 51, up 2 percent, as well as 49,442 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 14.5 percent to 15,396 units and intermodal volume rose 16 percent to 9,532 units.

Through 51 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 19,159,050 carloads, down 1.8 percent, and 15,263,210 containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent compared with the same 2011 period.