Carloads slow rail freight through October

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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AAR photo

Carload commodity freight on U.S. railroads continued to slow but intermodal shipments set a brisker pace through the first 10 months of this year.

The Association of American Railroads said U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 27 totaled 562,804 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4% from the same week a year ago.

Total carloads grew to 268,535 units, up 2.6%, while intermodal volume was 294,269 containers and trailers, up 6.1% from 2017.

Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR were better from the previous-year period. Petroleum and petroleum products flowed to a 36.8% improvement, while coal was ahead by 5.2%, followed by chemicals , up 5.6%.

Nonmetallic minerals slid 10.6%, and motor vehicles and parts slowed by 4.6%.

For the first 43 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,316,291 carloads, up 1.9% on-year, and 11,986,177 intermodal units, up 5.7%. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks was 23,302,468 carloads and intermodal units, ahead by 3.8% from 2017.

Weekly North American volume on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 376,943 carloads, up 3%, and 389,322 intermodal units, up 5.4%. Total combined traffic was 766,265 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.2%, with volume of 31,448,451 carloads and intermodal units better by 3.5%.

Canadian railroads reported 88,696 carloads for the week, up 7.5%, and 73,726 intermodal units, up 4.8% from a year ago. For the first 43 weeks cumulative volume of 6,477,297 carloads, containers and trailers gained 3.7%.

Mexican railroads reported 19,712 carloads for the week, down 8.8%, and 21,327 intermodal units, off 1.7%. Cumulative volume for the first 43 weeks was 1,668,686 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.

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