AAR reports annual gains for carload and intermodal in January
Carloads—at 1,345,184—were up 0.4 percent, and intermodal—at 1,183,285 trailers and containers—was up 1.3 percent compared to January 2013
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January carload and intermodal volumes posted annual gains, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carloads—at 1,345,184—were up 0.4 percent or 5,183 carloads annually. And intermodal—at 1,183,285 trailers and containers—was up 1.3 percent compared to January 2013. The weekly intermodal average of 236,657 units set a record for the highest weekly intermodal average for any January on record, according to the AAR.
“Railroads are very good at operating their 140,000 mile long, outdoor ‘factory floor’ in all kinds of difficult weather. That said, in many parts of the country, January took the term difficult weather to new lows, as in low temperatures, for recent years,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “We can’t quantify it precisely, but the extreme cold probably held down rail traffic to some extent – for example, by making it more difficult for rail customers to produce their products and to load what they did produce into rail cars.”
Of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 7 were up year-over-year. Grain headed up 13.2 percent or 12,141 carloads, and petroleum and petroleum products rose 10.4 percent or 6,777 carloads. The AAR also noted that crude oil loadings represent about half of all petroleum and petroleum products volumes.
Those commodities seeing declines included metallic ores down 23.5 percent or 7,389 carloads, and motor vehicles and parts off 6.1 percent or 4,158 carloads.
For the week ending February 1, carloads came in at 270,903, which was down 1.5 percent compared to the corresponding week a year ago, and intermodal was down 0.8 percent at 247,109 trailers and containers.
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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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