Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


AAR reports April volumes are mixed compared to 2010

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 09, 2011

As has been the case in recent weeks, rail carload and intermodal volumes were somewhat mixed in April, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

April rail carloads—at 1,117277—were down 0.2 percent compared to April 2010 and up 2.5 percent compared to March 2011 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, said the AAR.

The weekly carload average in April was at 294,319, which was down from 294,775 in April 2010. Carloads had been up for 13 straight months prior to April, and the AAR said the decline was small and due to a slight drop-off in coal loadings. Another factor cited by the AAR was that April 2010 was a tough comparison month: it had the highest carload volume of any month in the 20 months from December 2008 to August 2010.

April intermodal volumes were up 9 percent annually at 914,518 trailers and containers. This was up 24.6 percent over April 2009. The weekly intermodal average for April was 228,630 units and marked the second best April intermodal performance behind April 2006.

“April’s carload decline is the first year-over-year monthly decline since February 2010,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. “April 2010 was a relatively strong month and therefore a difficult comparison, and coal traffic was down for the first time since July 2010.  April’s carload decline was offset by continued intermodal growth.  Rail traffic deserves a close watch over the next several months because it’s a useful gauge of the strength of the economy.”

Intermodal is continuing its strong run for a variety of factors, according to industry experts, including supply capacity, which remains tight in the trucking market and lowering supply chain expenses at a time when fuel costs remain high, among others.

Of the 20 major commodities tracked by the AAR, 9 were up year-over-year. Grain was up 13.6 percent, and metallic ores were up 19.4 percent.  Coal was down 2.9 percent, and primary forest products were down 26.4 percent.

Railroad employee numbers increased by 1,340 to 155,842 employees in March from February (the most recent month for which data is available). This is the largest monthly increase since September 2010, according to AAR data.

And as of May 1, the AAR said that 276,228 freight cars—or 18.2 percent of the total fleet—were in storage, a decrease of 7,421 cars from April 1.

A research note from Ed Wolfe at Wolfe Trahan research noted that shippers are seeing signs of deteriorating rail service, particularly with the western U.S. rails as well as CP. Wolfe added that shippers contend the rails are suffering from tight freight car capacity and crew shortages, although locomotive capacity seems abundant.

For related stories, please click here.

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

With an eye on capitalizing on future trade and commerce growth in South Asia, express delivery and logistics services provider DHL today rolled out its plans to build an $85 million EUR ($93 million USD) DHL Express South Asia Hub, which will be a 24-hour express hub facility within the Changi Airfreight Center at the Singapore Changi Airport.

While the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has long stated its goal of having Positive Train Control (PTC) technology installed on 40 percent of its network by December 31, 2015, railroad industry stakeholders have repeatedly stated that reaching that deadline would be a stretch. It now appears that the railroad sector has some members of Congress sharing the same line of thought with legislation rolled out this week that pledges to extend the PTC deadline to 2020.

West Coast port authorities may be overstating the obvious when they decry “business as usual.” But it’s refreshing to see them finally coming around.

Transportation stakeholders reliant on North Carolina’s major seaports are welcoming news this week, which outlines plans to enhance the intermodal and cold chain network in the region.

The index ISM uses to measure non-manufacturing growth—known as the NMI—was 56.9 in February, which was 0.2 percent ahead of January and also 0.1 percent ahead of the 12-month average of 56.8. Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector has grown for the last 61 months, according to ISM.

Comments

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


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA