Thursday, September 27, 2012

U.S. freight carload traffic still struggles; intermodal up

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U.S. freight carload traffic declined 4.1% for the week ending Sept. 22, 2012, measured against the comparable week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume sustained its winning streak, though in relatively modest fashion, up 0.7% for the week compared with a year ago.

AAR said nine of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by petroleum products, up 54%, motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.2%, and food and kindred products, up 11.5%. Pacing the declining commodity groups were metallic ores, down 33.3%, coal, down 12.1%, and metal and products, down 10.8%.

Canadian freight carload volume edged up 1.0% for the week ending Sept. 22 compared with the same period a year ago, while Canadian intermodal rose more robustly, up 10.1%. Mexican freight carload volume also gained, up 3.2%, while Mexican intermodal also showed strength, up 11.7%. 

Combined North American freight carload traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.3% compared with the same time span in 2011. Combined North American intermodal volume for the period, by contrast, was up 4.6%.