Stacks and tracks: Intermodal leads AAR weekly freight data

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Growing e-commerce and the run-up to end-of-year retail sales helped intermodal shipments gain in the weekly rail freight report from the Association of American Railroads.

Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ended September 8 was 502,208 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.1% compared with the same week in 2017. Volume totaled 253,293 carloads, up 2.6%, while intermodal volume was 248,915 containers and trailers, up 5.8%.

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups finished ahead of the year-ago week, led by petroleum and petroleum products, 47%; grain, 15.3%, and nonmetallic minerals, 7.4%.

The largest category by units, coal, was again the lone decliner, by 7.4%, even as the Trump Administration rolled back Obama-era pollution controls on coal-fired power plants.

For the first 36 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,435,026 carloads, up 1.9% on-year, 9,953,534 intermodal units, up 6%. Total combined traffic was 19,388,560 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4%.

North American rail volume for the week ending September 8 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 356,999 carloads, up 2.6%, and 333,839 intermodal units, up 6.5%. Total combined traffic was 690,838 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4%. North American volume for the first 36 weeks of 2018 was 26,143,393 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.6%.

Canadian railroads reported 82,541 carloads for the week, up 3.9%, and 65,354 intermodal units, up 4.1%, compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 36 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,363,611 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.9%.

Mexican railroads reported 21,165 carloads for the week, down 2% from the same week a year ago, and 19,570 intermodal units, up 27.2%. Cumulative volume for the first 36 weeks of this year was 1,391,222 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.

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