AAR reports another week of mixed volumes
Carload volume—at 279,063—was down 5.2 percent annually, and intermodal at 238,980 trailers and containers—were up 3.1 percent annually
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Rail carload and intermodal volumes continued their ongoing pattern of mixed volumes for the week ending May 12, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carload volume—at 279,063—was down 5.2 percent annually and ahead of the week ending May 5 at 276,136 and behind the weeks ending April 28 and April 21 at 283,080 and 282,262, respectively.
Eastern carloads were down 5.2 percent annually, and out west carloads were also down 5.2 percent.
Intermodal volumes—at 238,980 trailers and containers—were up 3.1 percent annually and slightly below the 239,031 recorded for the week ending May 5. It was also below the weeks ending April 28 and April 21 at 242,365 and 239,276, respectively.
Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, ten were up annually. Petroleum products were up 49 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment were up 35.7 percent.
Coal was down 16.2 percent, and grain was down 11.4 percent.
Carloads for the first 19 weeks of 2012—at 5,347,394—were down 3.3 percent compared to the first 19 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 2.8 percent at 4,353,407 trailers and containers.
Estimated ton-miles for the week at 31.9 billion were down 3.9 percent, and for the year-to-date it is down 2.4 percent at 608.6 billion.
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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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