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

The PMI, the ISM’s index to measure growth, increased 1.8 percent to 57.1 in July. This is 1.8 percent higher than the 12-month average of 55.3. The PMI has grown in 18 of the last 20 months, with economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanding for the last 14 months as the overall economy was up for the 62nd consecutive month.

YRC Worldwide, whose regional and long-haul units provide the second-largest LTL capacity in the trucking industry, narrowed its second-quarter loss to $4.9 million on $1.32 billion revenue, compared with $15.1 million loss on $1.24 billion revenue in the year-ago quarter.

With NFL training camps in full swing, it stands to reason that Congress must be replete with football fans, given how it basically has elected to punt on federal transportation funding yet again, with the Senate yesterday signing off on a ten-month bill to keep federal surface transportation funding intact through May 2015 through a nearly $11 billion stopgap measure.

Carload volumes were up 4.3 percent at 306,988, and intermodal volume for the week ending July 26 was up 3.3 percent at 264,809

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