Thursday, October 18, 2012

AAR: Intermodal strong, carload volume weak

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U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending Oct. 13, 2012 remained unable to surmount 2011 levels, down 6.1% when measured against the comparable week one year ago, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume, for its part, maintained its own positive momentum, up 2.6% for the week compared with 2011.

AAR said 12 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by farm products excluding grain, up 55.1%, petroleum products, up 52.6%, and lumber and wood products, up 16.6%. Declining commodity groups included metallic ores, down 26.8%, iron and steel scrap, down 21%, and coal, down 16.9%.

Canadian freight carload traffic for the week mimicked the U.S. category, though less severely, down 3.7% compared with the same week last year. Canadian intermodal volume, by contrast, rose 10.7% for the week. Mexican freight carload traffic rose 5.7% compared with the same week last year, while Mexican intermodal advanced 37.7%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.6% percent compared with the same period in 2011, while combined North American intermodal volume was up 4.7%.