May 2012 volumes are mixed, reports Association of American Railroads

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that carload and intermodal volumes were mixed in May, continuing an uneven trend of growth on the tracks.

By ·

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that carload and intermodal volumes were mixed in May, continuing an uneven trend of growth on the tracks.

May carloads—at 1,132,352—were down 40,405 carloads or 2.8 percent annually, with a weekly carload average of 278,470. The 2.8 percent annual decline represents the smallest one in three months. Intermodal—at 1,178,312 trailers and containers—was up 39,696 units or 3.5 percent compared to May 2011. The weekly intermodal average for the month—at 235,662—is the highest ever recorded for May, said the AAR.

Of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 13 saw gains in April. Motor vehicles were up 27.7 percent (17,066 cars), and petroleum and petroleum products were up 49.2 percent (16,460 cars). Coal dipped 12.1 percent (74,469 cars), and agricultural and good products dropped 5.9 percent (11,585 cars).  Grain loadings decline by 11.8 percent (13,322 cars).

Even with mixed volumes remaining prevalent, rail analysts have told LM that a steady and slow growth pattern remains intact in 2012, which has aided the rails for future planning in the form of record-high 2012 capital expenditure plans by Class I railroads, which are at about $13 billion.

What’s more, anecdotal reports indicate that shippers are generally satisfied with current service levels, although there is some concern about future capacity, with current capacity levels solid.

The AAR reported that Class I employment increased by 1,353 employees to 161,876 in April 2012 (the month for which most recent data is available), which is the highest monthly employment level since November 2008. The AAR added that total Class I employment in April was up by 5,099 employees, a 3.3 percent gain over April 2011.

And as of June 1, the AAR said that 312,938 freight cars were in storage, which is up 4,981 since May 1 and represents about 20.4 percent of the North American fleet. The AAR also said that total cars in storage have increased for the past eight months. 

For the week ending June 2, the AAR reported that U.S. carloads—at 265,207—were down 3.1 percent annually. And intermodal—at 213,911—was up 4.1 percent annually.  And for the first 22 weeks of 2012, the AAR said that U.S. railroad carloads were down 3.1 percent at 6,184,547, while intermodal was up 2.9 percent at 5,053,708 trailers and containers.


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!

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.
Click here to download
Latest Whitepaper
Supply Chain Visibility: Illuminating the Path to Responsive, Agile Operations
Supply chain visibility is not an end, but a tool. It is the means to achieving true supply chain effectiveness, agility and ultimately, corporate profitability.
Download Today!
From the December 2017 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued expansion of domestic and international markets. Economists, meanwhile, say shippers can expect revenue growth in transport verticals to remain in the 3%-plus range.
2018 Customs & Regulations Update:10 observations on the “digital trade transformation”
Moore on Pricing: Freight settlement and your TMS
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2018 Rate Forecast
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
2018 Rate Outlook: Economic Expansion, Pushing Rates Skyward
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued...
Building the NextGen Supply Chain: Keeping pace with the digital economy
Peerless Media’s 2017 Virtual Summit shows how creating a data-rich ecosystem can eliminate...

2017 NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year: Mallinckrodt; Mastering and managing complexity
An inside look at how a large pharmaceutical firm transformed its vendor and supplier relationships...
2017 Alliance Awards: Recognizing outstanding supply chain partnerships
In an era where effective supply chain collaboration is both highly valued and elusive, Logistics...