Thursday, April 26, 2012

U.S. freight traffic picture stays mixed, AAR says

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U.S. freight carload traffic again fell short of year-ago levels in the latest week ending April 21, 2012, down 3.6% when measured against the comparable week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume, by contrast, continued its mirror-image advance, up 6.0% for the week compared with a year ago.

AAR said 14 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by petroleum products, up 48.3%, motor vehicles and equipment, up 32.9%, and primary forest products, up 22.8%. Groups with declines included farm products excluding grain, down 19%, grain, down 18%, and coal, down 16%.

Canadian freight carload volume continued to post more rosy results, up 9.1% for the week compared with the same week a year ago. Canadian intermodal volume also rose, up a robust 18.4%. Mexican freight carload traffic also rose smartly, up 27.3% for the week compared with the 2011 period, while Mexican intermodal also advanced, up 43.2%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 16 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.7% compared with the same period last year, while combined intermodal volume was up 4%.