Thursday, January 17, 2013

U.S. freight traffic resumes familiar mix(ed)

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For the second week of 2013 (and the first week fully within the calendar year), U.S. freight traffic mirrored its most common measure through most of 2012: U.S. carload freight fell; U.S. intermodal volume advanced.

The Association of American Railroads Thursday said U.S. freight carload traffic declined 6.4% for the week ending Jan. 12, measured against the comparable week of 2012. But U.S. intermodal volume resumed its surge, up 10.4% for the week.

AAR noted 13 of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012. They included petroleum products, up 47.75, crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 17.5%, and lumber and wood products, up 15.5%. Declining commodities included iron and steel scrap, down 22.1%, metallic ores, down 18.6%, and coal, continuing its prolonged slump, down 16%.

Canadian freight traffic mirrored the U.S., with freight carload traffic down 1.1% while intermodal traffic rose 7.8%, measured against the comparable week in 2012. Mexican freight carload volume rose 19.6% for the week ending Jan. 12, as did Mexican intermodal, up 6.1%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first two weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 7.2% compared with the same point in 2012. Combined North American intermodal volume was up 2.3%.