AAR reports annual gains in November for carload and intermodal volumes

Carloads—at 1,145,353—were up 1.3 percent, and intermodal—at 1,007,549 trailers and containers—was up 7.8 percent.

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Both United States carload and intermodal volumes saw gains in November, according to data released this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carloads—at 1,145,353—were up 1.3 percent, or 14,931 carloads, compared to November 2012.

Of the 20 commodity categories the AAR watches, 11 were saw annual gains in November. Grain was up 20.6 percent, or 15,685 carloads, and petroleum and petroleum products were up 20.0 percent, or 9,691 carloads. Coal dipped 4.3 percent or 20,057 carloads on an annual basis, and metallic ores dropped 10.1 percent, or 2,982 carloads.

Intermodal was a star performer in November, with 1,007,549 trailers and containers, which was up 7.8 percent—or 73,004 units—compared to November 2012.

And intermodal in November hit the highest weekly average of any November during the entire time AAR has tracked this data at 251,887 intermodal trailers and containers.

“U.S. rail traffic in November 2013 saw a big decline in coal carloads that was more than offset by gains in carloads of grain and petroleum products,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “Carload traffic continues to be consistent with an economy that’s growing at a moderate pace.  Meanwhile, rail intermodal volume was extremely strong in November, demonstrating the tremendous value that intermodal has become for rail customers.”

At last month’s NITL/IANA TransComp event in Houston, Larry Gross, senior consultant at FTR Associates, noted that domestic intermodal was growing around 0.1 percent in share every quarter annually and would drive continued mid-single digit overall intermodal growth.

For the week ending November 30, which included Thanksgiving, carloads came in at 255,628, which was down 16.3 percent, due to the fact that Thanksgiving did not fall on the corresponding week last year. This was below the weeks ending November 23 and November 16, which hit 296,581 and 295,563, respectively. Intermodal for the week ending November 30 was at 207,888 units for a 13.9 percent annual drop. This was below the weeks ending November 23 and November 16 at 267,759 and 266,643, respectively.

On a year-to-date basis through the first 48 weeks of 2013, carloads are down 0.5 percent at 13,529,500, and intermodal is up 4.3 percent at 11,872,914 units.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

AAR · Carload · Intermodal · Railroad Shipping · All Topics
Hub Group Resources
Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
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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