U.S. freight carload traffic, which in 2013 often lagged behind its 2012 pace and which was flat for the week ending April 19, gained ground in the latest week, up 9.5% when measured against the comparable period in 2013. U.S. intermodal, a traditional winner each week, also advanced, up 6.7% compared with a year ago. Total U.S. freight rail traffic rose 8.2%.
Reflecting the overall strength, nine of the 10 carload commodity groups AAR measures on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain, up 39.3%, and nonmetallic minerals and products, up 13.4%. Metallic ores and metals was the sole declining commodity group, and just barely, down 0.7%.
Canadian freight traffic mirrored its U.S. counterpart during the week ending April 26. Canadian freight carload traffic gained 5.8% compared with the same week in 2013. Canadian intermodal volume rose 11.3%. Mexican freight carload traffic for the week notched a 4.6% gain; Mexican intermodal rose modestly, up 0.2%, but completing a winning sweep among categories for the week.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was in the black, up 0.5% when measured against the comparable 2013 period. Combined North American intermodal volume was up more substantially, gaining 4.7%.