Thursday, April 15, 2010

March carload traffic up 7.5% from 2009, still trails 2008

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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Wednesday that carload traffic on U.S. railroads rose 7.55% in March compared with the same month last year, but was down 11.5% from March 2008.

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“It is important to note that while we are seeingpositive growth in carloads compared with last year, things are still down from 2008,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. “It will take some time for traffic to rebound to where we were in 2006—the best year in history for rail traffic.”

AAR said 16 of the 19 commodity groups saw higher carloads last month compared with the same month last year. U.S. rail intermodal traffic was up 12.1% in March compared with the same month last year, but down 4.5% for the same month in 2008.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, carloads in March were up 3.9% compared with February 2010, while intermodal was up 2.1%.

As for the latest weekly figures ending April 10, AAR said Thursday that U.S. carload traffic rose 16.4% from the comparable week in 2009, with all 19 carload commodity groups showing increases from last year. Volume still trailed 12% below the comparable 2008 period. U.S. intermodal traffic was up 14.2% from last year but down 10.5% from the 2008 week.

Leading the 19 carload commodity groups in gains were: shipments of metals, up 108.6%, metallic ores, up 97.6%, primary forest products, up 54.4%, scrap, up 54%, and motor vehicles, up 35.%%.

Canadian carload traffic rose 31% for the week ending April 10 compared with 2009, and intermodal rose 17.4%.  Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload traffic gained 68.7% from the comparable week in 2009, while intermodal rose an even heftier76.2%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads rose 6.2% compared with the comparable 14 weeks in 2009. Intermodal rose 9.3% from last year.