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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Small roads more than double Class Is' first-quarter traffic gains, RMI says


During the first quarter, North American Class Is’ traffic increased 4.6 percent compared with first-quarter 2004. However, the continent’s small railroads more than doubled the large roads’ percentage gain, boosting carloads 11.5 percent compared with the same 2004 period, according to RMI’s RailConnect® Index Quarterly Analysis of Traffic Statistics.

Excluding bulk commodity and intermodal traffic, regionals’ and short lines’ carloads rose 11.9 percent while Class Is’ carloads increased 2.3 percent.

Small roads’ quarterly stone, clay and aggregate carloads rose 32.5 percent — the largest increase on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Four other commodities posted double-digit increases compared with first-quarter 2004: petroleum and coke; waste and scrap materials; metals and metal products; and intermodal, which rose a second-best 31.1 percent. Only grain carloads and ‘all other’ traffic registered declines.

During the quarter, short lines’ terminating, originating, local and bridge traffic accounted for 41.6 percent, 36.5 percent, 12.2 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, of all traffic compared with 42.2 percent, 35.6 percent, 12.7 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, in first-quarter 2004.

“Local traffic is considered the most profitable of all short-line traffic,” said RMI Chairman Pete Kleifgen in a prepared statement.

Each week, RMI collects carload data from 201 U.S. and Canadian regionals and short lines for the RailConnect® Index of Short-Line Traffic. An information technology services provider, the company distributes the quarterly analysis to RailConnect customers free of charge, as well as to industry analysts and trade publications.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/10/2005