Friday, March 13, 2009

March freight traffic: More lamb than lion

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U.S. freight traffic completed the first week of March with an estimated volume of 29.2 billion ton-miles, off 13.9% from the comparable first week of March 2008, the Association of American Railroads reported. U.S. carload freight declined 15.0% for the week ended March 7 compared with the comparable period of one year ago, slipping 11.9% in the West and 19.5% in the East. U.S. intermodal volume declined 12.7% compared with year-ago levels.

AAR noted all 19 carload commodity groups it tracks declined. Coal fell a relatively modest 0.8%, while metals led the decliners, down 57.3%.

For the first nine weeks of 2009, U.S. carload freight fell 15.8%, intermodal fell a near-equivalent 15.5%, and volume in ton miles fell 14.6%.

Canadian railroads suffered a similar fate, with carload freight down 18.3% in the first week of March vs.the comparable week in 2008. Intermodal fell 12.1% compared with a year ago. For the first nine weeks of 2009, Canadian carload freight declined 18.4%; intermodal fell 11.7%.

Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload freight down 4.8%, while intermodal plunged 27.5%. For the first nine weeks of 2009, carload freight fell 12.4%, while intermodal was down 21.4%, compared with the comparable period in 2008.

Combined North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2009 was down 16.1% from last year, with intermodal down 15.0% in the same period.