AAR reports gains for weekly carload and intermodal volumes
Carload volume at 291,381 was up 1.3 percent compared to the same week last year, and intermodal at 244,726 trailers and containers was up 4.3 percent annually
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Rail carload and intermodal volumes were both positive for the week ending May 26, snapping a several weeks-long stretch of mixed volumes, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carload volume—at 291,381 was up 1.3 percent compared to the same week last year and was ahead of the three previous weeks, which checked in at 280,565, 279,063, and 276,136, respectively.
Eastern carloads were down 4.1 percent annually, and out west carloads were up 5.1 percent.
Intermodal volumes—at 244,726 trailers and containers—were up 4.3 percent annually and ahead of the three previous weeks at 241,664, 238,980, and 239,031, respectively.
Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 16 were up annually. Petroleum products were up 51.6 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment were up 29.2 percent.
Coal was down 6.3 percent.
Carloads for the first 21 weeks of 2012—at 5,919,340—were down 3.1 percent compared to the first 21 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 2.9 percent at 4,839,797 trailers and containers.
Estimated ton-miles for the week at 33.0 billion were up 1.5 percent, and for the year-to-date it is down 2.3 percent at 673.7 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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