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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Small railroads' carloads up 1.7 percent through 19 weeks, RMI says

Healthy ores, farm products and grain traffic continued to drive up short-line carloads during 2008's first 19 weeks, according to RMI's RailConnect® Index of Short Line Traffic.

Through May 10, ores (totaling 57,326 carloads), farm products excluding grain (101,975 carloads) and grain (277,338 carloads) increased 18 percent, 11 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively, compared with totals from 2007's first 19 weeks.

Overall, short-line carloads totaled 2.3 million units, up 1.7 percent year over year. RMI's index is based on data derived from 331 U.S. and Canadian regionals and short lines.

Other commodities posting gains include petroleum and coke, up 9.4 percent to 114,150 units; metals and products, up 8.9 percent to 227,466 units; coal, up 8.5 percent to 287,091 units; chemicals, up 2.7 percent to 328,241 units; and waste and scrap materials, up 1.9 percent to 122,096 units.

Meanwhile — primarily due to the weak housing market — lumber and forest products carloads plummeted 22.3 percent to 91,875 units compared with the total from 2007's first 19 weeks. In addition, paper products traffic fell 8.8 percent to 147,827 units, intermodal traffic tumbled 8.6 percent to 249,884 units, motor vehicles/equipment traffic declined 2.7 percent to 37,414 units and stone/clay/aggregates traffic decreased 0.7 percent to 193,532 units.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/27/2008