Thursday, December 27, 2012

Near year’s end, U.S. freight traffic gains

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U.S. freight carload traffic, falling short of 2011 totals through most of this year, notched a 0.9% rise in the week ending Dec. 22, 2012, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. More in keeping with overall 2012 trends, U.S. intermodal volume for the week also advanced, up 10.2% when measured against the comparable week in 2011.

AAR noted 15 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011. Gaining commodities included petroleum products, up 71.5%, crushed stone, sand,and gravel, up 29.5%, and lumber and wood products, up 27.3%. Declining commodities included metallic ores, down 26.3%, and coal, down 11.1%. Coal's relative decline has been a key factor in lower U.S. freight carload volume for the year.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 5.8% compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 2.1% compared with the same week in 2011.

Canadian freight carload volume rose 2% during the week ending Dec. 22 compared with the same week last year, while Canadian intermodal volume advanced 3.7%. Mexican freight carload volume soared 14.5% ahead of the comparable week in 2011, while Mexican intermodal did even better, up 16%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 51 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.8% measured against the comparable period in 2011. Combined North American intermodal volume for the period was up 4.4%.