Thursday, August 29, 2013

Despite crude strength, U.S. freight traffic slips

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Crude-by-rail shipments are aiding U.S. freight traffic week by week, but not enough to keep overall U.S. freight carload volume to fall during the week ending Aug. 24, 2013, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.

U.S. freight carload volume for the week declined 1.7% measured against the comparable week in 2012. Intermodal, also bolstering the bottom line of U.S. railroads, advanced per the 2013 norm, up 3.5% for the week compared with last year. In total, U.S. freight traffic gained 0.7% during the week.

AAR said U.S. Class I railroads originated "a record 108,605 carloads of crude oil in the second quarter of 2013, up 11.8% from the 97,135 carloads originated in the first quarter of 2013 and up 111.05 over the 51,474 carloads originated in the second quarter of 2012. Crude oil accounted for 1.5% of total Class I carloads in the second quarter of 2013. Based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, AAR estimates that railroads today transport approximately 11% of U.S. crude oil production, up from virtually none a few years ago."

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups measured by AAR posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, with petroleum and petroleum products a m ain strength, up 15.3%. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included grain, showing a 15.3% drop.

Canadian freight carload volume mirrored its U.S. counterpart category, down 0.8% compared with the same week in 2012. Canadian intermodal volume also mimicked the U.S. category, up 6.1% for the week. Mexican freight carload volume rose 6.2% for the week ending Aug. 24, while Mexican intermodal fell 4.0%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the 34 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 0.3% measured against he comparable period in 2012, while combined North American intermodal was up 3.5%.