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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Weekly U.S. rail traffic still stuck in mixed-result mode

For the week ending August 10, U.S. carloads dipped 0.2 percent to 288,803 units and intermodal volume climbed 6.1 percent to 257,969 units compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Total U.S. rail traffic rose 2.7 percent to 546,772 loads. Six of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by petroleum and petroleum products at 16.8 percent, while grain volume fell 11.4 percent.

However, petroleum products traffic growth has slowed so far in the third quarter as year-over-year comparisons become more difficult, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly "Rail Flash" report.

"Oasis Petroleum, a Bakken-only oil producer, emphasized the flexibility of crude oil transport in its second-quarter conference call — the company moved one-third of its production via pipe in June and two-thirds of its production via pipe in July as pricing dynamics shifted," they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 75,962, up 7.3 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 53,490 units, up 1.1 percent year over year. Mexican railroads' weekly carloads climbed 12.5 percent to 15,954, but their intermodal volume tumbled 6.5 percent to 10,287 units.

Through 2013's first 32 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 11,868,498 carloads, down 0.3 percent, and 9,741,635 containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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