Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rail traffic continues to edge upward

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Railroaders looking for even the slightest signs of a recovery got just that Thursday. In its latest weekly report, the Association of American Railroads announced that traffic on U.S. railroads in the week ended June 13 "continued to show signs of gradual improvement."

"Rail carloadings and intermodal were up from the previous week with carloads at their highest level in 10 weeks. While traffic showed signs of improvement from the previous week, compared year-over-year traffic remains down," said the association.

Carload traffic totaled 261,956 cars, up 0.6% from the previous week this year, but down 19% from the same week in 2008. Intermodal volume totaled 189,508 trailers or containers, up 0.4% from the previous week but down 17% from last year.

Total U.S. volume for the latest week was  estimated at 27.7 billion ton-miles, down 17.8 % from the same week last year.

Eighteen of 19 commodity groups were down from 2008, with declines ranging from 5.5% for coal to 61.4% for metals and products. The only group showing an increase was farm products other than grain, up 4.8%.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 56,978 carloads for the week, down 26.6% from last year, and 39,081 trailers or containers, down 18.8 %. Mexico's two major railroads originated 12,441 carloads, down 14.4% from last year's twenty-third week, and 4,762 trailers or containers, off 29.0%.

Total North American roll volume for the first 23 weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting railroads included 7,677,555 carloads, down 20.2% from last year, and 5,307,734 trailers and containers, down 16.7%.