Thursday, September 20, 2012

Intermodal again powers U.S. freight mix

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U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending Sept. 15 lagged behind the comparable week in 2011, down 2.9%, continuing a yearlong trend, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. Counterbalancing that was the continued strength of U.S. intermodal volume for the week, up 3.9% compared with the same week last year.

AAR said just nine of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by petroleum products, up 46.3%, crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 10.8%, and food and kindred products, up 10.3%. Declining commodity groups farm products excluding grain, down 22.7%, metallic ores, down 21.3%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 19.5%. Coal fell 9.7%.

Canadian freight carload volume for the week ending Sept. 15 did well, up 4.1% compared with a year ago. Canadian intermodal also rose, up 7.4%. Mexican freight carload volume for the week advanced 8.4% compared with the same week a year ago, while Mexican intermodal volume soared 28% above last year's level.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 37 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian. and Mexican railroads was down 1.3% measured against he comparable period in 2011. Combined North American intermodal for the same period was up 4.7% compared with 2011.