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AAR reports post-Thanksgiving week volumes are up year-over-year

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
December 10, 2010

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that railroad volumes for the week ending December 4 were up on an annual basis.

Carload volume at 303,570 was up 6.8 percent compared to the same period in 2009 and were up significantly compared to the 254,121 recorded during Thanksgiving week. The week ending December 4 was also up compared to pre-Thanksgiving weeks, including the weeks of November 20 and November 13, which hit 297,990 and 297,269, respectively.

The AAR said that carload volume in the East was up 4.7 percent year-over-year. Out West, carloads were up 8.2 percent year-over-year.

But despite these annual improvements, which have been occurring throughout 2010 in comparison to a 2009 which experts say was the worst year for rail volume since deregulation, these current volumes remain below peak levels.

A research note by Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Larkin noted that rail traffic improvement appears less robust in the fourth quarter than the third quarter on an annual basis although total fourth quarter traffic on a year-to-date basis is 0.2 percent higher than the third quarter on a sequential basis.

“This compares favorably relative to the 1.5% average sequential decline from the 3Q to the 4Q (average of previous seven years),” wrote Larkin. “We attribute this to favorable volumes of heavier carload freight and a more moderate decline in intermodal volume in 4Q10 than what is typical seasonally.”


Intermodal volumes at 235,835 trailers and containers were up 13.8 percent year-over-year for the week ending December 4, which was ahead of the 183,790 recorded during Thanksgiving week and in line with the weeks ending November 20 and November 13 at 235,999 and 232,888, respectively.

The high intermodal mark for 2010 to date is the week ending September 25 at 241,167. Container volume for the week ending December 4 at 197,526 was up 15.3 percent, and trailer volume at 38,309 was up 6.5 percent, according to AAR data.

As LM has reported, domestic intermodal volumes on the container side are continuing to outpace the overall economic recovery in conjunction with intermodal shipments gaining share over other modes of freight transportation, according to a recent report by the Intermodal Association of North America.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 13 were up year-over-year and seven posted double-digit gains. Metallic ores were up 64 percent, metals and metal products were up 25.3 percent, and crushed stone, sand, and gravel was up 24.4 percent.

Year-to-date, total U.S. carload volumes at 13,765,857 carloads are up 7.1 percent year-over-year. Trailers or containers at 10,484,071 are up 14.3 percent year-over-year.

Estimated ton-miles for the week ending November 27 came in at 34.5 billion for an 8.2 percent annual gain. Total volume year-to-date at 1,524.7 billion ton-miles was up 8.3 percent year-over-year.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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