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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

RMI: Short lines post small carload drop through 2008's first 51 weeks


With one week to go in 2008, short lines’ traffic held up reasonably well for the year despite the recession — and a 23 percent drop in carloads in the 51st week.

Through Dec. 20, 344 reporting regionals and short lines handled 6 million carloads, a 2.8 percent decrease compared with traffic from 2007’s first 51 weeks, according to RMI’s “RailConnect Index of Short Line Traffic.”

The railroads registered year-over-year drops in half of 14 commodity groups, with the largest declines in intermodal (17 percent), lumber and forest products (15.8 percent) and paper products (8.3 percent). “All other” traffic decreased 5.7 percent, motor vehicles and equipment loads fell 4.9 percent, stone/clay/aggregate traffic declined 3.3 percent and waste/scrap material loads dropped 0.3 percent.

On the plus side, reporting regionals and short lines posted significant carload gains with farm and food products (5 percent), ores (4.1 percent), coal (2.8 percent), petroleum and coke (2.8 percent), and metals and products (2.3 percent).

In the “holding their own” department, grain carloads rose 0.7 percent and chemical loads increased 0.5 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/6/2009