Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


AAR reports annual gains in October for carloads and intermodal volumes

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 08, 2013

Carload and intermodal volumes both saw annual gains in October, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

October carloads—at 1,443,609—were up 1.5 percent—or 21,059 carloads— annually. AAR said this represents the largest year-over-year carload percentage gain in the last 22 months, adding that October 2012 was impacted by Hurricane Sandy. When taking out coal and grain, the AAR said that U.S. carloads were up 5.6 percent (or 42,037 carloads).

On a year-to-date basis, U.S. rail carloads are down 0.7 percent at 12,384,147.

Of the 20 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 15 were up compared to October 2012. Grain was up 9.3 percent (or 9,450 carloads), and petroleum and petroleum products were up 14.2 percent (or 8,426 carloads). Coal was down 5.4 percent (or 30,428 carloads), and farm products excluding grain were down 46.2 percent (or 3,738 carloads). 

Not to be overlooked in the carload figures is the continuing strength of crude oil carloads, more commonly known in industry circles as crude by rail. For the third quarter, the AAR said that U.S. Class I railroads originated 93,312 carloads of crude oil, which is up 44.3 percent compared to the third quarter of 2012 and down 14.1 percent from the second quarter of this year, which hit 108,605.

“There’s been some concern lately that the recovery may be running out of steam.  Rail traffic data for October doesn’t seem to support that,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.  “A number of economically sensitive commodities, like lumber, autos, and chemicals, saw higher traffic volumes in October.  The sharp increase in grain carloadings is a welcome change and points to the cooperative relationship railroads have established with their partners in the agricultural community.”

Intermodal volumes were impressive in October, rising 6.8 percent (or 84,120 units) to 1,317,601 containers and trailers. And the weekly average of 263,520 intermodal units is the single highest weekly average ever recorded, according to the AAR.

The growth in intermodal, especially on the domestic side, is not a huge surprise. The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) recently reported that domestic intermodal container volumes have led the charge for ten straight quarters. And IANA President and CEO Joni Casey told LM that intermodal continues to provide myriad benefits for shippers, including: more consistent, economical service; conversions from highway based on pricing differentials; shippers already using intermodal increasing their spend; transloading volumes; and small growth contribution of intermodal trailers. 

What’s more, domestic intermodal has been on a strong growth track due to things like lower fuel cost and improving service, as well as major investments into rail networks, spurring the thesis that that intermodal is taking share from over the road trucking and will continue to be an area of secular growth for railroads.

For the week ending November 2, the AAR said that U.S. rails moved 292,298 carloads for a 5.1 percent annual gain. This is below the week ending October 26 at 297,455 and ahead of the week ending October 19 at 289,256.

Intermodal for the week ending November 3 hit 264,264 trailers and containers for a 17.7 percent annual increase. This was ahead of the week ending October 26 at 261,231 and behind the week ending October 19 at 264,687.

Intermodal is up 4.0 percent annually year-to-date at 10,865,365 containers and trailers.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The Port of Oakland has undertaken a series of measures in recent years to attract more import volume.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that U.S. trade with its North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico increased 8.2 percent from September 2013 to September 2014 at $102.2 billion.

NS said that the D&H lines it plans to acquire connect with the NS network at Sunbury, Pa. and Binghamton, N.Y. and give NS single-line routes from Chicago and the southeast U.S. to Albany, N.Y., which is in close proximity to NS’ Mechanicville, N.Y.-based intermodal terminal.

This follows a 1.6 cent decrease last week, which was preceded by a 5.4 gain the week before and stands as the first increase going back to the week of June 23, when the weekly average headed up 3.7 cents to $3.919 per gallon.

BNSF said that its 2015 capital expenditures will be allocated towards various areas of its business, including maintenance and expansion of the railroad to meet the expected demand for freight rail service, with 2015 representing the third straight year BNSF has invested a record annual capital expenditures investment.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA