Thursday, December 19, 2013

U.S. freight traffic stays mixed in December

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U.S. freight carload volume declined, while intermodal gained ground, during the week ending Dec. 14, 2013, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday, Dec. 19, making it two weeks in a row with such a split result.

U.S. freight carload traffic fell 4.9% during the week when measured against the comparable week in 2012. U.S. intermodal volume rose 6.4%, with AAR noting the rise resulted in "the second highest week on record" for the category. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was up 0.3%.

Just four of the 10 carload commodity groups AAR tracks weekly posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum and petroleum products, up 10.4%, and motor vehicles and part, up 5.5%. Declining commodities included metallic ores and metals, down 14.0%, and coal, down 8.4%.

Canadian freight carload traffic fell sharply, down 8.2%, while Canadian intermodal volume moved up 2.2%. Mexican freight carload volume outshone U.S. and Canadian counterparts, up 3.2%, while Mexican intermodal volume also did well, up 12.5%.

Combined North American freight carload traffic for the 50 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 0.2% when measured against the comparable period in 2012. Combined North American intermodal volume for the period was up 4.3%.