AAR reports mixed carload and intermodal volumes for August 2012
August carloads—at 1,461,680—were down 1.4 percent annually. Intermodal—at 1,230,992 trailers and containers—was up 4.3 percent.
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The Association of American Railroads said this week that carload and intermodal volumes for August were again mixed.
August carloads—at 1,461,680—were down 1.4 percent annually. Intermodal—at 1,230,992 trailers and containers—was up 4.3 percent compared to August 2011.
AAR officials pointed out that the average weekly intermodal volume in August of 246,198 represents the second highest average for the month of August, according to their data.
“U.S rail traffic in August was pretty much same song, different verse,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “Weakness in coal carloadings was largely but not entirely offset by increases in carloads of petroleum and petroleum products, autos, lumber, and several other commodities, with intermodal showing continued strength.”
The AAR also reported that as of September 1, 311,226 freight cars were in storage, which represents 3,745 fewer cars than August 1 and is the equivalent to 20.3 percent of the North American fleet.
Various commodities tracked by the AAR were up on an annual basis in August. Petroleum and petroleum products were up 49 percent—or 18,007 carloads, and motor vehicles and parts were up 13 percent—or 8,966 carloads. Coal was down 7.3 percent—or 48,493 carloads, and metallic ores fell 18 percent or 8,757 carloads.
“While rail fundamentals continue to be solid overall, the carriers are likely to face a few headwinds in 3Q12, including rising fuel prices and the 60-day lag effect of fuel surcharges,” wrote Dahlman Rose analyst Jason Seidl in a research note. “On a more macro level, a number of Class Is are now expecting a ‘muted’ peak season, but still ahead of last year.”
For the week ending September 1, the AAR said that carload volumes—at 292,732—were down 3.4 percent annually. Intermodal—at 249,113 trailers and containers—was up 6.5 percent.
And on a year-to-date basis through the first 35 weeks of 2012, U.S. carloads—at 9,890,231—are down 2.4 percent. Intermodal—at 8,226,793 trailers and containers—are up 3.7 percent.
About the AuthorJeff 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. Contact Jeff Berman
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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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