AAR reports carload and intermodal volumes are up for week ending June 18

Intermodal volumes hit a 2011 high for the second straight week at 237,682 trailers and containers for a 4.3 percent annual gain, topping the week ending June 4 at 237,422 by 260 trailers and containers.

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Data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) showed both carload and intermodal volumes growing on an annual basis for the week ending June 18.

Carload volume—at 294,310—was up 3.3 percent year-over-year and ahead of the week ending June 11 at 290,181 and June 4 at 273,584. It was also behind the week ending April 2, which hit 305,905 carloads, marking the highest weekly carload tally since the end of 2008.

Carload volume was up 1.5 percent in the East and up 4.5 percent out West compared to last year. Carloads on a year-to-date basis are at 6,968,722 for a 3 percent annual increase.

Intermodal volumes hit a 2011 high for the second straight week at 237,682 trailers and containers for a 4.3 percent annual gain, topping the week ending June 4 at 237,422 by 260 trailers and containers. The previous intermodal high for the year was the week ending May 28 at 234,668.

Intermodal volumes on a year-to-date basis at 5,384,370 are up 8.2 percent compared to 2010.

Intermodal continues to make strides on the domestic side due to fuel price pressure and its ability to provide service comparable to truckload at a more favorable rate, say shippers and analysts.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 16 were up annually. Metallic ores were up 32.2 percent and lumber and wood products were up 17.2 percent. Waste and nonferrous scrap was down 19.5 percent, and coke was down 11.9 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 32.6 billion for a 4.2 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 779.3 billion ton-miles recorded were up 4.1 percent.


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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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