AAR reports mixed volumes for week ending August 18

Carload volume—at 293,916—was down 2.1 percent annually, and intermodal volumes—at 247,224 trailers and containers—were up 3.6 percent.

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Rail carload and intermodal volumes were mixed for the week ending August 18, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—at 293,916—was down 2.1 percent annually and ahead of the week ending August 11 at 289,172 and the week ending August 4 at 228,229. Eastern carloads were down 5 percent annually, and out west carloads were down 0.1 percent.

Intermodal volumes—at 247,224 trailers and containers—were up 3.6 percent compared to the same week last year and ahead of the week ending August 11 at 243,030 and the week ending August 4 at 243,261.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, ten were up annually. Petroleum products were up 45.6 percent, lumber and wood products were up 16.4 percent. Metallic ores were down 29 percent. 

Carloads for the first 33 weeks of 2012—at 9,299,868—were down 2.4 percent compared to the first 33 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 3.6 percent at 7,729,316 trailers and containers.

Estimated ton-miles for the week ending August 18 were down 0.9 percent at 34.3 billion, and were down 1.6 percent on a year-to-date basis at 1,063.8 billion.


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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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