AAR reports mixed volumes for November 2012
November carloads—at 1,130,770—were down 4 percent annually, and intermodal—at 934,595 trailers and containers—was up 1.2 percent compared to November 2011.
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Carload and intermodal volumes were mixed in November, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
November carloads—at 1,130,770—were down 4 percent annually, while carloads excluding grain and coal were up 30,466 carloads or 4.6 percent. And intermodal—at 934,595 trailers and containers—was up 1.2 percent compared to November 2011. This marks the 36th straight month intermodal has been up on an annual basis.
“Coal and grain together account for almost half of non-intermodal U.S. rail traffic, so they are obviously very important to railroads,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “But coal and grain carloads often rise or fall for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the economy. Other commodity categories like autos, lumber, and crushed stone, sand and gravel that are more highly correlated with economic growth have been growing, which we hope is a good sign for the economy moving forward.”
Commodities seeing gains in November included: petroleum and petroleum products, up 56.9 percent or 17,592 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 14.1 percent or 7,762 carloads, and crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 7.4 percent or 5,319 carloads. Commodities with carload declines in November were included coal, down 12.8 percent or 68,837 carloads; grain, down 10.7 percent or 9,141 carloads, and metallic ores, down 10.7 percent or 3,545 carloads.
The AAR also reported that for the week ending December 1, 2012. U.S. railroads originated 305,708 carloads, which down 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and intermodal volume at 241,411 trailers and containers, was down 1.1 percent.
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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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