January rail and intermodal volumes show slight gains, says AAR
February 06, 2012
Carload and intermodal volumes both saw slight annual gains in January, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
January carloads—at 1,144,800—were up 0.1 percent annually. Intermodal—at 877,637 trailers and containers—was up 1.7 percent compared to January 2011.
“Total rail carload traffic in January was flat compared with last year, due largely to sharp declines in coal and grain traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “However, a number of other commodity categories — including many that have historically been much more highly correlated with GDP growth than coal and grain—saw large increases in January. That’s a sign that the underlying economy is probably stronger than you would think if you just looked at the rail traffic totals.”
The weekly carload average for January was 286,200, and the weekly intermodal average was 219,409, which the AAR said marked the third-highest weekly intermodal average for the month.
Even with relatively slight annual increases, the AAR noted that “the bottom line is the fact that total U.S. carloads actually rose in January, even if just by a small amount, is a signal of the strength of other key commodity categories.”
Of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 11 were up in January. Motor vehicles and parts were up 18.3 percent, and metallic ores were up 29.3 percent. Grain was down 15.4 percent and coal was off by 2.4 percent.
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