Friday, September 25, 2009

Rail freight traffic remains in the doldrums

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Rail carload traffic in the week ended Sept. 19 posted only a single-digit decline--9.6%--compared with the corresponding week in 2008. But the improvement was more apparent than real.

As the Association of American Railroads noted: "While the weekly year-over-year percentage decline was better than for the previous week ending Sept. 12, 2009, down 19.8%, this week in 2008 was impacted by service disruptions associated with Hurricane Ike." Regionally, loadings were down 4.8% in the West and 15.8% in the East.

Intermodal traffic of on U.S. railroads was down 12.4 % from last year. Container volume fell 6.29% and trailer volume was off 35.5%.

While most of the 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year, chemicals were up 17.4%, petroleum products were up 6.7 %, and farm products (excluding grain) rose 3.3%.

For the first 37 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,831,638 carloads, down 18.2% from 2008; 6,936,253 trailers or containers, down 16.8%, and total volume estimated at 1.05 trillion ton-miles, down 17.3%.

Canadian railroads reported carload volume for the latest week down 10.7% from last year, and intermodal volume was down 11.4%. For the first 37 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads had total volume of 2,235,077 carloads, down 22.8% from last year, and 1,500,252 trailers or containers, down 16.3%.

Mexican railroads reported 10,836 carloads in the week ended Sept. 19, down 0.8% from last year, and 6,223 trailers or containers, down 7.8%. Volume for the first 37 weeks of 2009 was 420,254 carloads, down 14.1%, and 189,297 trailers or containers, down 19.1%.