Thursday, November 02, 2017

Economy spurs record intermodal volume

Written by 
  • Print
  • Email
John T. Gray John T. Gray

Following steadily growing weekly volume, intermodal rail traffic reached an all-time high on U.S. carriers in October, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Railroads originated 1,065,777 carloads in October, down 0.1% from October, 2016. But a record 1,144,157 containers and trailers was up 6.4% on-year. Combined carload and intermodal originations were 2,209,934, up 3.1% year-on-year.

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw gains, compared with the previous October. These included metallic ores, 20.6%; crushed stone, sand and gravel, 16.5%, and chemicals, 6.4%. Commodities that saw declines included grain, 11.8%; coal, 4.9%, and motor vehicles and parts, 7%.

"Year-over-year U.S. rail carloads in October were held back by declines in carloads of grain and coal," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "However, carloads of these commodities tend to rise or fall for reasons that have little to do with the state of the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up 4.8% in October, their best monthly gain in almost three years. As such, rail carloads, as well as record intermodal volume in October, support the view that the economy is doing somewhat better now than it has been in the past two years."

Excluding coal, carloads were up 2.3%. Excluding coal and grain, carloads gained 4.8%.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of 2017 was 11,172,437 carloads, up 3.4%, and 11,576,709 intermodal units, up 3.7%. Total combined traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 22,749,146 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6%.

Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ended Oct. 28 was 546,582 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2% from the same week a year ago.

Volume totaled 263,064 carloads, down 3.2% while intermodal volume was 283,518 containers and trailers, up 3.7%.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase, led by metallic ores and metals, 16.9%; nonmetallic minerals, 9.9%, and chemicals, 1.6%. Decreases were seen in coal, 10.5%; grain, 10.4%, and petroleum and petroleum products, 9.1%.

Weekly North American volume on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,922 carloads, down 1.9%, and 367,703 intermodal units, up 6.2%. Total combined traffic was 730,625 carloads and intermodal units, up 2%. Volume for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 30,181,627 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9%.

Canadian railroads reported 82,640 carloads for the week, up 0.9%, and 70,452 intermodal units, up 15.8%. For the first 43 weeks of 2017, volume of 6,252,399 carloads, containers and trailers was up 11.1%.

Mexican railroads reported 17,218 carloads for the week, up 5%, and 13,733 intermodal units, up 14.9%. Volume for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 1,180,082 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1% on-year.










Get the latest rail news

Rail news and analysis from Railway Age, IRJ and RT&S by email