AAR reports October carloads show annual gains

October carloads—at 1,215,627—were up 1.7 percent annually. And intermodal—at 975,566 trailers and containers—was up 3.6 percent compared to October 2010.

By ·

As was the case in September, the Association for American Railroads (AAR) reported that carload and intermodal volumes in October were up on an annual basis.

October carloads—at 1,215,627—were up 1.7 percent annually. And intermodal—at 975,566 trailers and containers—was up 3.6 percent compared to October 2010. Both categories were also up sequentially, ahead of September’s 1,195,671 carloads and 949,606 trailers and containers.

“While there is clearly room for improvement, October rail traffic appears to indicate that we are still in a slowly growing economy,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “Rail carloads of many key industrial commodities — chemicals, steel, petroleum products, crushed stone and gravel — are up, and higher rail shipments of autos and intermodal are consistent with a potential pickup on the consumer side of our economy.  Things can change quickly, of course, and the growth rates are certainly not as robust as we would like to see, but we at least appear to be headed in the right direction.”

What’s more October brought about the highest weekly carload total of any month since October 2008, with a weekly average of 303,907 and represents the highest annual percentage increase since March of this year.

On the intermodal side, the weekly average of 243,892 trailers and containers is the highest weekly total since October 2006 and the sixth highest weekly average of any month in history, according to the AAR.

AAR officials noted that October is traditionally the best month for intermodal traffic because it is when retailers do the bulk of their stocking up for the holidays. They added that the “containerization of U.S. rail intermodal service continues its upward trend,” explaining that containers accounted for 86.0 percent of U.S. rail intermodal volume in 2011, down fractionally from September’s 86.1 percent and August’s 86.3 percent. This period, said the AAR, represents a stretch in which never before have containers accounted for such a high percentage of U.S. intermodal traffic.

This sentiment was similar at this month’s RailTrends conference presented by Progressive Railroading magazine and independent industry analyst Tony Hatch.

Both Class I and short line executives noted at RailTrends that intermodal continues to be a major driver for traffic and volume growth.

“Truckload carriers that provide intermodal service are going to the railroads to work on developing [corridors and related projects like terminals], because shippers are asking for it,” said Hatch at RailTrends. “Intermodal is running at a high level of precision.”

For the week ending October 29, the AAR said that U.S. rails moved 307,900 carloads for a 5.2 percent annual gain. This is ahead of the previous two weeks, which hit 301,864 and 303,363, respectively. Carloads on Eastern rails were up 2.3 percent, and volumes were up 7.1 percent out West.

Intermodal for the week ending October 29 reached 243,774 trailers and containers for a 4.6 percent annual improvement. This was slightly below the previous two weeks, which came in at 245,404 and 244,289, respectively.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 14 showed weekly gains, with iron and steel scrap up 23.5 percent and petroleum products up 20.5 percent.

On a year-to-date basis, carloads are up 1.8 percent at 12,544,777, and intermodal is up 5.3 percent at 9,856,792.


About the Author

Jeff 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

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Six Ways Cloud ERP Supports Rapid Innovation
Kenandy is a new approach to ERP that lets you and your team focus on driving innovation, creating new product lines, and expanding your customer base even as you improve your business operations.
Download Today!
From the November 2016 Issue
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that could successfully combine transportation services and technology capabilities under one roof.
Warehouse & DC Operations Survey: Ready to confront complexity
2016 Quest for Quality Awards Dinner
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Best Practices: How to Efficiently Leverage APIs to Increase Your Net Income
Both legacy and modern technology leaders agree that leveraging API connectivity is critical in keeping up with the pace of a world that demands not only speed and agility, but also a deep level of visibility. During this session a panel of technology and industry experts discuss impact APIs can have on annual net income and market capitalization.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...
Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...

Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...