Thursday, May 24, 2012

AAR: Carload traffic slumps; intermodal still stars

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U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending May 19, 2012 was down 5.0% measured against the comparable week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday, continuing a trend. But U.S. intermodal volume for the same week kept its own trend going, up 3.1% compared with volume one year ago.

AAR said 12 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by petroleum products, up 49.4%, motor vehicles and equipment, up 23.3%, and lumber and wood products, up 17.9%. Groups pacing declining commodities included nonmetallic minerals, down 16.3%, coal, down 16.1%, and coke, down 8.6%.

Canadian freight carload volume continued to ignore the trend of its U.S. counterpart, 6.6% compared with the same week last year. Canadian intermodal volume also increased, up 8.8%. Mexican freight carload fell 3.4% for the week ending May 19, but Mexican intermodal gained 13.4% compared with one year ago.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 20 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.8% compared with the same point last year, while combined intermodal volume was up 4.2%.

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