AAR noted only seven of the 20 carload U.S. commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011; many previous weeks in 2012 have noted gains in half the groups or better. Winners included farm products excluding grain, up 87%, petroleum products, up 60.5%, and lumber and wood products, up 19.8%. Declining commodities iron and steel scrap, down 25.5%, coal, down 13.9%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 13.2%.
All told, U.S. freight carload volume continued falling short of 2011 levels, down 4.4% in the latest week. U.S. intermodal volume continued its countertrend, gaining 3.5% for the week compared with one year ago.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 6% compared with the same week last year, while in the West weekly carload volume was down 3.4%.
Canadian freight carload volume fell 3.6% for the week ending Oct. 20, while Canadian intermodal volume advanced 3.9%. Mexican freight carload volume fell 3% short of volumes in the same week a year ago, but Mexican intermodal soared 46.9%.
Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 42 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican was, down 1.6% compared with the same point last year, while combined North American intermodal volume was up 4.7%.