Thursday, July 26, 2012

U.S. freight traffic trend reverts to 2012 norm

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U.S. freight traffic for the week ending July 21, 2012 resumed its bifurcated trend for the year—a decline in freight carload volume, an increase in intermodal—the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. U.S. freight carload volume for the week fell 1.9%, measured against the comparable week in 2011. U.S. intermodal volume, however, remained robust, up 6.2% for the week compared with a year ago.

AAR noted just seven of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by with petroleum products, up 50.1%. Pacing the declining commodities were iron and steel scrap, down 24.2%, grain, down 16.9%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 12.3%.

Coal declined a relatively modest 1.8% during the week, compared to a year ago.

Both Canada and Mexico registered gains in both freight categories. Canadian freight carload volume rose 2.8% for the week ending July 21, compared with a year ago, while Canadian intermodal advanced 6.9%. Mexican freight carload volume edged up 0.5% for the week compared with a year ago, while Mexican intermodal was up 8.4%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 29 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.4% compared with the same period last year, while combined intermodal volume was up 4.6%.