March 2013 rail and intermodal volumes are mixed, says AAR

March carloads—at 1,117,427—were down 5,969 carloads or 0.5 percent annually. Intermodal—at 933,028 trailers and containers—was up 4,859 units or 0.5 percent compared to March 2012.

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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that carload and intermodal volumes were mixed in March.

March carloads—at 1,117,427—were down 5,969 carloads or 0.5 percent annually. Intermodal—at 933,028 trailers and containers—was up 4,859 units or 0.5 percent compared to March 2012.

Of the 10 commodities tracked by the AAR, seven saw annual gains in March. Petroleum and petroleum products were up 54.3 percent or 19,295carloads, and crushed stone, sand, and gravel were up 11.9 percent or 8,380 carloads. Grain was down 20.1 percent or 16,971 carloads, and coal was down 2 percent or 8,963 carloads.

“U.S. rail traffic continues to mirror the overall economy:  not great, not terrible, anticipating a better future,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.  “Petroleum and petroleum products continue to lead traffic gains, while coal and grain have seen better days.  Intermodal volume in March was up just 0.5 percent over last year, but it was still the highest-volume March in history and built on even stronger gains earlier in the quarter.”

For the week ending March 30, the AAR reported that carloads—at 281,367—were down 1.9 percent annually. This outpaced the previous three weeks at 278,738, 280,624, and 276,698, respectively.

Intermodal for the week ending March 30 came in at 233,587 and was down 3.8 percent annually. This was slightly below the 235,641 from the week ending March 23, ahead of the 228,806 recorded during the week of March 16 and ahead of the 235,174 from the week ending March 9.


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Article Topics

AAR · Carload · Intermodal · All Topics
Hub Group Resources
Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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