AAR reports decent carload and intermodal gains for June
July 07, 2014
Carload and intermodal volumes for the month of June both showed annual gains, according to data recently issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
United States Class I carloads were up 43,310 carloads–or 3.6 percent annually–at 1,177,655 in June, with monthly carload growth cumulatively averaging 4.9 percent from March through June, which the AAR said is the highest average for any four-month stretch going back to December 2010 through March 2011. What’s more, the AAR said that total carloads came in at an average of 294,414 for the month, which stands as the highest weekly average for June since 2008.
“Carload volume seems to be doing just fine,” said Brooks Bentz, senior partner for Accenture’s Supply Chain practice, in LM’s June Railroad and Intermodal Roundtable. “Growth seems to be present in a number of key areas, such as automotive and the above-mentioned commodities relating to energy production. Also, a good amount of air traffic is shifting to ocean, so over-the-road freight will gradually shift back to carload in certain markets to offset increasing costs of highway transport and the delay time incurred with congestion in major markets. It just won’t be as fast a shift.”
On the intermodal side, the AAR said that total containers and trailers were up 67,967 units–or 6.7 percent–compared to June 2013 at 1,077,385. The weekly intermodal average for June at 269,346 units stands as the single best month ever since AAR began collecting this data, and for the second quarter the AAR said that intermodal volumes were up 8 percent or 253,921 units.
As for potential intermodal growth for the remainder of the year, the AAR said it is likely, considering that intermodal volumes usually peak in the fall months, and with records already being broken in the first half of the year, the potential for more to be broken in the second half is likely. And it noted that over the first six months of 2014, intermodal containers represented 88.4 percent of total intermodal volumes, which stands as the highest percentage for containers ever recorded.
“All in all, June was another good month for rail traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “The fact that most categories of rail traffic were up in June, and that intermodal set a new volume record, supports the view that the economy is rebounding at a decent pace. Railroads will continue to do their part in ensuring this continues.”
Of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR, volumes for 17 of them were up annually, matching May’s output. Crushed stone, sand, and gravel were up 12,217 carloads or 14.1 percent, and grain was up 10,394 carloads or 16.5 percent. And each of the ten carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR saw annual gains, paced by petroleum and petroleum products and grain, which were up 18.5 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively.
Through the first 26 weeks of 2014, the AAR said U.S. Class I carloads were up 3.2 percent annually at 7,448,294, and intermodal was up 5.9 percent at 6,642,440 containers and trailers.
For the week ending June 28, U.S. carloads were up 6.3 percent at 298,457, and intermodal was 6 percent at 264,766 units.
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