Thursday, September 17, 2009

U.S. carload freight still struggles to gain ground

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U.S. carload freight traffic for the week ended September 12 was down 19.8% compared with the same week in 2008, the Association of American Railroads reported. AAR noted part of the decline could be attributed to the 2009 Labor Day (September 7); last year’s corresponding week 36 did not include the holiday.

All 19 carload freight commodity groups measured by AAR were down from last year. Farm products not including grain fell a modest 1.5%; metallic ores plunged 52.3%.

U.S. intermodal traffic also fell 25.8% from the same week last year. Container volume fell 20.9% and trailer volume dropped 43.9%.

Canadian railroads reported volume fell 22.1% for the weekcompared with last year; intermodal volume declined 27.5%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported originated volume down a modest 1% from the same week last year, while intermodal registered a gain, up 8.4%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 19.2% from last year. Combined intermodal volume fell 16.9% during the period measured against the comparable 2008 span.