Intermodal's rebound follows two weeks of decline compared with the comparable period a year ago. It also helped offset the decline of 3.9% in U.S. freight carload traffic for the week, continuing the yearlong slump in this category.
AAR said 12 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, led by petroleum products, up 50.1%, lumber and wood products, up 22.9%, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.6%. Declining commodities included nonmetallic minerals, down 20.4%, coal, down 13.2%, and grain, down 11.3%.
Volume was evenly spread throughout the nation, with Eastern railroads down 3.9%, Western railroads down 4%, measured against the same week a year ago.
Canadian freight carload volume, by contrast, rose 3% for the week ending Dec. 15, while Canadian intermodal mirrored U.S. intermodal movement, rising 7.7%. Mexican freight carload volume was up 10.7% compared with a year ago; Mexican intermodal volume rose 4.5%.
Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 50 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 1.8% measured against the comparable period in 2011. Combined North American intermodal volume for the period was up 4.3% from last year.