U.S. freight carload traffic fell 2.6% for the week measured against the comparable week in 2012. U.S. intermodal volume, however, advanced once more, up 2.1% for the week compared with last year. Total U.S. traffic for the week declined 0.4%.
Just two of the 10 carload commodity groups AAR tracks posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, not surprisingly led by petroleum products, up 42.2%. Grain was among those leading the pack of declining commodities, down 20.4%.
Canadian freight carload volume fared better than its U.S. counterpart during the week, up 0.8% compared with the same week last year, while Canadian intermodal also fared well, up 1.5%. Mexican freight carload volume also did well, up 2.4% for the week compared with the same week last year. But Mexican intermodal volume fell 2.4% for the week.
Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 17 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1% percent compared with the same point last year, while combined North American intermodal volume rose 4.2%.
The U.S. mixed mix also was reflected in AAR’s monthly tally for April, also released Thursday. U.S. freight carload traffic fell 0.4% compared with April 2012, while U.S. intermodal volume rose 1.6%. AAR noted the month’s intermodal volume “was the highest for any April in history.”
“Coal and grain carloads remain depressed, but by and large rail traffic in April was consistent with an economy that’s continuing to grow, albeit slowly,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “There’s nothing in the traffic data to indicate that a sharp economic slowdown is imminent. On the other hand, there’s nothing to indicate that a dramatic uptick in economic growth is imminent either.”