Monday, April 13, 2009

Weather, economic woes continue to affect freight traffic

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Bad weather across midsection of the U.S., combined with continued economic sluggishness, resulted in yet another decline in U.S. railfreight traffic for the week ended April 4, according to the Association of American Railroads.

AAR said U.S. railroad carload traffic fell 20.5% from the comparable week in 2008, with loadings down 19.4% in the West and 22.0% in the East. Western railroads still notched a lesser decline despite floods in the U.S. Midwest and bad weather in Wyoming, affecting coal movements, which fell 8.3%.

U.S. intermodal volume also fell, down 14.7% from the same week a year ago. Total volume of 27.9 billion ton miles was down 19.1% from 2008 levels.

Canadian railroads freightcar loadings declined 25.7% from the comparable week in 2008, while intermodal fell 17.4%. Mexican freight carload traffic fell 41.3% from last year, and intermodal plunged a similar 43.0%.

For the first 13 weeks of 2009, cumulative U.S. carload volume declined 16.7% from the comparable period in 2008; intermodal fell 15.4%, and total volume fell 15.5% during the period. Canadian railroads saw carloads fall 20.0% during the 13-week period compared to the 2008 counterpart, while intermodal slipped 12.6%. Mexican railroads reported carload freight fell 9.3% during the first 13 weeks of 2009 compared with one year ago, while intermodal fell 18.8%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2009 on U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 17.1% from the comparable 2008 period, while intermodal declined 15.0%.