Weekly freight traffic still trailing 2008 levels

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads during the week ended February 7 was off again in comparison with last year, although “up slightly” from the previous week ending Jan. 31, according to the Association of American Railroads. Total volume of 28.2 billion ton-miles was 15.1% lower than the comparable week in 2008.

U.S. carload freight slumped 16.1% from the comparison week in2008, with loadings down 12.2% in the West and 21.6% in the East. But compared with the previous week of this year, carload volume was up 1.4%. U.S. intermodal volume fell 15.0%, but was up 0.9% from the previous week this year.

For the first five weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads cumulative volume was down 16.7% from 2008; cumulative intermodal traffic declined 13.3%.

Canadian carload freight 15.1% during the week compared with the comparable period in 2008, while intermodal fell 7.6%. For the first five weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume declined 18.1%, while cumulative intermodal fell 11.3%.

Mexico’s two major freight railroads reported weekly carload freight down 5.9% from last year’s fifth week, while intermodal retreated by 4.8%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2009 was down 13.6%; cumulative intermodal fell by 20.4%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads was, down 16.9%; combined intermodal traffic for the period declined 13.1% compared with the comparable five-week period in 2008.

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