Thursday, March 19, 2009

Freight traffic doldrums continue

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U.S. freight traffic for the week ended March 14 fell 15% from the comparable week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported, though traffic was up 1.5% from the previous week. Loadings fell 14.2% in the West and 16.1%  in the East. U.S. intermodal volume dropped an even steeper 18.3%. Eighteen of AAR’s 19 carload freight commodity groups declined from 2008 levels.

Total volume was estimated at 29.6 billion ton-miles, down 14.0% from the comparable week in 2008.

Canadian freight traffic fell 21.4% for the week compared with year-ago levels, while intermodal declined 11.3%. Mexico’s two major railroads, however, reported freight traffic rose 15.2% for the week compared with a year ago, while intermodal declined a relatively modest 4.3%.

For the first 10 weeks of 2009, U.S. freight traffic fell15.7% from the comparable 2008 period; Canadian freight fell 18.7%, and Mexican freight declined 10.0%. U.S. intermodal declined 15.8%, Canadian intermodal fell 11.6%, and Mexican intermodal dropped 19.9%, for the 10-week period compared with 2008.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 3,464,158 carloads, down 16.1% from 2008, while intermodal fell 15.2%.