Thursday, March 29, 2012

U.S. carload traffic slump continues

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U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending March 24, 2012 fell significantly, down 7.2%, measured against the comparable week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said Thursday, continuing a decline that now has run for some time.

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 26.8 %, coke, up 15.1%, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.8%. But coal volume continued its recent slippage, down 17.4% for the week measured against the same week a year ago. Grain shipments also fell, down 14.2%.

U.S. intermodal volume for the week, by contrast, rose 4.2% compared with the same week last year.

Canadian freight carload traffic for the week ending March 24 did better than its U.S. counterpart, up a modest 0.4%. Canadian intermodal volume did better still, up 10.7% for the week. , Mexican freight carload volume rose 1.7% compared with a year ago, but Mexican intermodal volume for the week declined 6.0%, defying its overall upward trend in 2012.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 12 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 0.8% compared with last year, while combined intermodal volume was up 3.6% compared with the first 12 weeks of 2011.