AAR reports rail volumes show annual increase during holiday week

By Jeff Berman · September 17, 2010

Unlike past weeks, there were no 2010 records set for railroad traffic for the week ending September 11, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

A likely reason for that is directly linked to the Labor Day holiday, which fell during this week.

Carload volumes came in at 277,350 for a 5.1 percent annual gain and a 15.5 percent decline compared to 2008, said the AAR. The AAR pointed out that the corresponding week in 2009 also included the Labor Day holiday but 2008 did not. The week ending September 4 is the high traffic mark for 2010 at 305,000 carloads.

Intermodal container volume—at 206,850 trailers and containers—was up 18.1 percent year-over-year and down 12.7 percent compared to 2008. The 2010 high for intermodal occurred during the week ending August 28 at 237,194 trailers and containers.

In October 2009, the AAR began reporting weekly rail traffic with year-over-year comparisons for the previous two years, due to the fact that the economic downturn was in full effect at this time a year ago, and global trade was bottoming and economic activity was below current levels.

Carload volume in the East was up 1.2 percent year-over-year and down 20.8 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 7.7 percent year-over-year and down 11.7 percent compared to 2008.

While rail volumes are relatively healthy, current volumes are still below previous peak levels and are starting to face tougher year-over-year comparisons through the remainder of 2010, given the fact that 2009 was a down year for the rails in terms of volume growth.

Dahlman Rose transportation analyst Jason Seidl wrote in a research note that at his firm’s recently-held transportation conference that executives from leading Class I and short line railroads provided a much needed breath of fresh air by voicing optimism regarding the current state and prospects of the North American railroad industry and overall global economy.

“While they expressed some caution, none believed that a double-dip recession is likely to occur,” wrote Seidl. “Instead, they described a steady and sustainable, albeit slow, recovery, evident in their unique insight into multiple components of the economy and their recent interactions with their customers. The railroads noted continued strength in intermodal and automotive traffic.”

Year-to-date, total U.S. carload volumes at 10,223,248 carloads are up 7 percent year-over-year and down 12.7 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 7,701,274 are up 14.5 percent year-over-year and down 4.9 percent compared to 2008.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 15 were up year-over-year. Metallic ores were up 129.9 percent and farm products excluding grain up 38.7 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 30.4 billion ton-miles, a 5.9 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 1,124.6 billion ton-miles was up 8.2 percent year-over-year.


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

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!

Article Topics

AAR · Intermodal · Railroad · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo