AAR reports rail volumes are up for week ending January 1

By Jeff Berman · January 7, 2011

Railroad traffic continued its steady gains for the post-holiday week ending January 1 on an annual basis, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 240,073 was up 5.6 percent year-over-year but down compared to the week ending December 25 at 256,098 and the week ending December 18 at 271,709. The AAR said that carload volume in the East was up 2.5 percent year-over-year. Out West, carloads were up 7.4 percent year-over-year.

Intermodal for the week ending January 1 saw 166,894 trailers and containers for an 11.9 percent increase over 2009, with containers—at 141,646—up 10.9 percent and trailers—at 25,248—up 18.1 percent.

And for all of 2010, the AAR reported that total originated carloads checked in at 14,820,128 for a 7.3 percent annual gain and a 10 percent decline from 2008. On the intermodal side, total 2010 traffic at 11,282,336 trailers and containers was up 14.2 percent over 2009 and down 1.9 percent compared to 2008.

“Rail traffic growth in 2010 is clearly a positive development, and reflects a growing economy as well as solid, dependable service on the part of the railroads,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.  “However, this growth is certainly slower than any of us would like, and rail traffic still has a long way to go to full recovery.”

Some industry analysts described fourth quarter rail traffic improvements as showing less growth than the third quarter on an annual basis, with a driver for this being favorable volumes of heavier carload freight and a more moderate decline in intermodal volume in the fourth quarter than what is typical seasonally, according to Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Larkin.

Of the 19 carload commodities the AAR tracks, 16 were up during the last week of 2010. Some of the biggest gainers were metallic ores at 111.7 percent, lumber and wood products at 35.7 percent, and farm products, excluding grain, up 32.3 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week ending January 1 came in at 27.3 billion for a 6.6 percent annual gain. Total volume for all of 2010 at 1,644.8 billion ton-miles was up 8.5 percent year-over-year.

For more related articles on railroad news, click here.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
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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