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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Weekly traffic report: Major roads picking up carload pace


U.S. and Canadian Class I railroads might be on the cusp of posting meaningful carload growth, if last week is any indication.

For the week ending Nov. 15, major U.S. and Canadian railroads originated 412,706 carloads, a 2 percent increase compared with the same 2002 week, according to statistics issued by the Association of American Railroad's Policy and Economics Department.

A 5.9 percent hike in agricultural products traffic (46,631 carloads compared with 44,039 for the same 2002 period) and a 6.8 percent increase in nonmetallic minerals/products (37,898 carloads compared with 35,465 for the same period last year) helped U.S. roads counteract continually slumping coal traffic, which declined 3 percent (133,534 carloads compared with 137,662 in the same 2002 period).

Canadian railroads, too, benefited big-time from an ag-product boost: They originated 15,374 carloads for the week ending Nov. 15, a 34.1 percent increase compared with 11,465 for the same period last year.

Among the Class Is, the Canadian roads posted the week's best carload performances. Canadian National Railway Co. originated 44,184 carloads, an 11.7 percent increase compared with 39,558 for the same 2002 period. Canadian Pacific Railway wasn't too far behind, originating 25,056 carloads, a 7.1 percent increase compared with the same week last year.

For 2003's first 46 weeks, major freight roads originated 17,914,994 carloads, which put them just a hair behind last year's 17,918,683 for the same 2002 period.

Mexico's TFM S.A. de C.V. continued to struggle both in terms of carload and intermodal originations. TFM originated 8,241 carloads, a 14.2 percent decline compared with the same 2002 period, as two key commodities — grain and motor vehicle/equipment continued to lag.

Intermodal originations, too, were down: TFM originated 3,485 units, a 14.8 percent decline compared with the same 2002 period.