AAR reports steady continued volume growth for week ending March 26

Carload volume at 299,903 was up 1.9 percent annually and surpassed the week ending March 19 which hit 293,772. Intermodal volumes were up 5.7 percent at 223,034 trailers and containers,

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Rail carload and intermodal volumes were both up again for the week ending March 26, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 299,903 was up 1.9 percent annually and surpassed the week ending March 19 which hit 293,772. It also edged the week ending March 12 at 292,164 and was below the week ending March 5 at 303,953. Carload volume was down 1.4 percent in the East and up 4.2 percent out West, matching Western output percentage wise from the weeks ending March 19 and March 12. Total carloads on a year-to-date basis are currently at 3,468,044 for a 5 percent year-over-year increase.

On the intermodal side, volumes were up 5.7 percent at 223,034 trailers and containers, which was in line with the 222,788 tally for the week ending March 19 and the 216,828 for the week ending March 12.

Volumes continue to show steady growth on an annual and sequential basis, while the percentage levels of annual gains are lessening due to the fact that 2010 was being compared to a dismal 2009, a low point for freight transportation volumes.

And as LM has reported, rail prospects for 2011 remain very encouraging, as railroads have been able to maintain solid pricing power in conjunction with volume increases.

This was evident in the recently-released 2010 Annual Report by Class I railroad carrier Norfolk Southern, with CEO Wick Moorman stating that NS is prepared for “the volumes we expect throughout 2011 and beyond.”

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 11 were up annually. Pulp, paper and allied products were up 19.4 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment were up 12.7 percent. Primary forest products were down 20.6 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 33.8 billion for a 3.7 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 390.8 billion ton-miles recorded are up 6.2 percent.

Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene wrote in a research note that “rail volumes are returning to trajectories that bode well for the remainder of 2011 and beyond.”

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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

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