Friday, February 20, 2009

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads struggles

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U.S. railroads reported that freight volume during the week ended Feb. 14 was once again down in comparison with last year, according to the Association of American Railroads. Carload freight fell 12.2% from the level achieved in the comparable week of 2008, though AAR noted carload volume for the week reached its highest level so far in 2009 and was up 6.2% from the previous week ended February 7.

Eastern railroads continue to be hit harder, with loadings down 16.3% for the week relative to year-ago levels; by contrast, loadings fell 9.3% in the West. Intermodal volume dropped 12.9% compared with last year. Total volume was estimated at 29.9 billion ton-miles, off 11.0% from a year ago.

Canadian railroads reported carload volume fell 8.4% for the week compared with the comparable 2008 period, while intermodal slipped 3.8%. Mexican railroads reported carload volume fell 6.1% for the week compared to a year ago, while intermodal declined 6.9%.

North American rail volume for the first six weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 15.9% from last year’s comparable six-week period, while intermodal fell 12.9% during the period.

AAR noted Canadian National’s recent acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. has resulted in some reporting changes that affect current totals and comparisons with last year.