Rail and intermodal volumes are mixed for week ending November 10, says AAR

Carload volume—at 283,414—was down 5.4 percent annually, and intermodal at 249,531 trailers and containers—were up 1.9 percent.

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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported this week that volumes for the week ending November 10 were again mixed.

Carload volume—at 283,414—was down 5.4 percent annually and ahead of the week ending November, which was impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and hit 278,320. It was also below the week ending October 27 at 287,104.

Eastern carload volumes were down 5.7 percent annually, and out west carloads were down 5.2 percent.

Intermodal volumes—at 249,531 trailers and containers—were up 1.9 percent compared to the same week a year ago and were ahead of the week ending November 3 at 224,467 and below the week ending October 27 at 253,186.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 12 were up annually. Petroleum products were up 45.5 percent, and farm products excluding grain were up 24 percent. Metallic ores were down 20.9 percent, and coal was down 15.5 percent. 

Carloads for the first 45 weeks of 2012—at 12,784,473—were down 3 percent compared to the first 45 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 3.4 percent at 10,694,270 trailers and containers.

Estimated ton-miles for the week ending November 10 were down 5.1 percent at 33.2 billion, and were down 2.2 percent on a year-to-date basis at 1,467.1 billion.


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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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