Thursday, June 14, 2012

U.S. freight carloads down (again); intermodal gains

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U.S. freight carload volume for the week ending June 9, 2012, once again failed to match the comparable week in 2011, down 1.7%, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. The shortfall, however, was less severe than in the previous week, when freight carload volume was down 3.1% compared with a year ago. U.S. intermodal continued to offer a contrast, up 3.8% compared with the same week last year.

AAR said 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups it tracks posted increases, led again by petroleum products, up 50.4%, and by motor vehicles and equipment, up 29.6%. Iron & steel scrap, one of the strong candidates in last week's report, led declining commodities this week, down 21.2%. Joining it were coke, down 12.7%, and grain, down 11.1%. Coal's decline, 7.6%, was relatively modest compared with previous weeks.

Canadian freight carload volume for the week ending June 9 was up 5.5% compared with the same week last year, and Canadian intermodal also rose smartly, up 12%. Mexican freight carload volume for the week rose 2.3%, and Mexican intermodal volume also gained ground, up 12.6%

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 23 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.8% compared with the same span of time in 2011; combined North American intermodal volume was up 4.1%.