The Association of American Railroads reports that in the week ended Dec. 19, freight volume on U.S. railroads was slightly ahead of 2008 but remained sharply down from 2007. The AAR estimated total volume at 30.4 billion ton-miles, up 0.3% from the comparable 2008 week, but down 11.6% from 2007.
Intermodal traffic totaled 209,759 trailers and containers, up 9.4% from last year but down 8.7% from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 18.6% and trailer volume dropped 20.1%. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume slipped 1.4% and trailer volume was off 32.4%.
Carload freight totaled 271,819 cars, down 0.1% from 2008 and 16.7% from 2007.
Eleven of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up compared with the same week last year, with double-digit increases in metallic ores (50.9%), motor vehicles and equipment (28.1%), grain (22.8%), grain mill products (21.4%), chemicals (13.9 %), metals (13.1%), and nonmetallic minerals (12.7%). Declines ranged from 0.1% for petroleum products to 31.6% for the category of all other carloads.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 65,815 cars for the week, up 6.5% from last year, and 41,952 trailers or containers, up 2.3%. Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 15,061 cars, up 24.8% from last year, and 6,785 trailers or containers, up 34.9%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 17,109,500 carloads, down 16.7% from last year, and 11,921,922 trailers and containers, down 14.6%.