Thursday, January 10, 2013

New year, same U.S. freight traffic doldrums

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U.S. freight traffic volume began 2013 the same way it ended 2012, declining from the comparable week of one year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday.

U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending Jan. 5, 2013, which includes two vestigal days of 2012, declined 12.1% measured against the comparable week a year earlier. Intermodal volume for the week also fell, down 8%. AAR noted, however, "Traffic volume was likely impacted by the New Year's holiday, which fell on a Monday and Tuesday in 2013, as opposed to Saturday and Sunday in 2012. "

Only four of the 20 carload commodity groups AAR tracks posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum products, up 53.6%, coke, up 12.5%, and lumber and wood products, up 6%. Pacing the declining commodity groups were iron and steel scrap, down 29.3%, motor vehicles and equipment, down 20.6%, and coal, down 19.2%.

Canadian freight carload volume for the week ending Jan. 5 did better, breaking even compared with the same week a year ago. Canadian intermodal did better still, up 4.4% for the week. Mexican freight carload volume, by contrast, declined 23.6% for the week compared with a year ago, and Mexican intermodal volume also retreated, down 31.2%.

Mexican railroads reported 8,401 carloads for the week, down 23.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 5,090 trailers and containers, down 31.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first week of 2013 is 8,401 carloads, down 23.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 5,090 trailers and containers, down 31.2 percent from last year.

Combined North American rail volume for the first week of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 10.1% compared with the same point entering 2012. Combined North American intermodal for the week also was down, falling 6.7%.