Monday, January 04, 2010

Intermodal traffic up, ton-mile volume lags

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The Association of American Railroads reported an increase in rail intermodal traffic for the week ended Dec. 26 but said total ton-mile volume continued to trail year-ago levels.

Intermodal traffic added up to 141,699 trailers and containers, up 14.2% from the comparable week of 2008.  Container volume rose 21.6% and trailer volume declined 14.5%. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume fell 4.5% and trailer volume dropped 34.4%.

Rail carload freight was down 1.1% to 197,754 cars. In the eastern U.S., carloads were up 1.3% compared with the same week last year. In the West, carloads were down 2.3%. Comparison weeks for both years included the Christmas holiday.

The AAR said U.S. carload volume was down largely because of a more than 21,000 carload (19.1%) drop in coal loadings. Seventeen of the other 18 carload commodity groups were up compared with the same week last year, with 14 reporting double-digit increases, including motor vehicles (52.1%), lumber and wood products (44.8%), grain (31.1%), metals (31.7%), and chemicals (18.7%). 

Total volume was estimated at 22.1 billion ton-miles, down 0.9% from the comparable 2008 week.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 55,572 cars for the week, up 33.5% from last year, and 30,653 trailers or containers, up 49% from 2008. Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 10,718 cars, up 37.7% from the same week last year, and 5,462 trailers or containers, up 53.3%.