AAR reports rail volumes show annual increase during holiday week

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).

By ·

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, 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!

Article Topics

AAR · Intermodal · Railroad · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Lead your organization through the driver shortage and over-the-road regulations.
Potential transportation disruptions are looming as increased over-the-road regulations are set to go into effect in 2017. Experts believe these regulations will further impact the already challenged driver pool as well as reduce driver productivity.
Download Today!
From the January 2017 Issue
Following LM tradition, we start off the New Year with our annual “Rate Outlook” cover story and subsequent Webcast
Moore on Pricing: The other TMS functional options
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
Join our panel of top oil and transportation analysts for an exclusive look at where rates are headed and the issues driving those rate increases over the coming year.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
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....