AAR reports annual carload and intermodal gains for April 2014
Carloads in April—at 1,481,586—were up 88,801 carloads or 6.4 percent annually, and intermodal—at 1,316,176 trailers and containers—was up 108,485 units or 9 percent compared to April 2013.
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Both carload and intermodal volumes headed up on an annual basis in April, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) this week.
Carloads in April—at 1,481,586—were up 88,801 carloads or 6.4 percent annually. Of the 20 commodities tracked by the AAR, 14 were up compared to March 2013, with coal up 6.4 percent and grain up 27.6 percent. Metallic ores were down 27 percent, and food products were down 3 percent.
AAR officials said that excluding coal and grain April carloads were up 4.1 percent or 31,616 carloads, which marks the largest percentage gain in six months.
Intermodal volume in April—at 1,316,176 trailers and containers—was up 108,485 units or 9 percent compared to April 2013. The AAR said that April marks the 53rd straight annual monthly volume gain for intermodal volume, adding that the weekly average of 263,235 containers and trailers in April is the highest for any April in history and the second highest month ever based on AAR data.
“April was a good month for rail traffic, as carload and intermodal volume rebounded from disappointing winter months,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “As is the case for a number of economic indicators that have shown recent improvement, the key question is how much of the rail traffic increase in April represents a catch-up from the winter and how much is a sign of stronger underlying growth. It’s probably some of both.”
For the week ending May 3, the AAR reported that U.S. carloads at 297,432 were up 4.8 percent annually, and intermodal was up 8.8 percent at 267,369 containers and trailers.
On a year-to-date basis for the first 18 weeks of 2014, the AAR reported carloads were up 2.4 percent at 5,084,325, and intermodal was up 5.3 percent at 4,519,175 containers and trailers.
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Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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