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Rail and intermodal volumes see slight sequential declines, says AAR

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 29, 2011

Like the preceding week, rail traffic was mixed for the week ending April 23 compared to last year, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—at 292,706—was down 2.1 percent annually and also behind the week ending April 16, which hit 295,426 and the week ending April 9 at 293,798. It was also behind the week ending April 2, which hit 305,905 carloads, marking the highest weekly carload tally since the end of 2008.

Carload volume was down 7.8 percent in the East and up 2.1 percent out West. Carloads on a year-to-date basis are at 4,655,879 for a 4 percent year-over-year increase.

On the intermodal side, volumes for the week ending April 23 hit 225,668 trailers and containers, lagging the week ending April 16 at 230,460 trailers and containers and the week ending April 9 at 228,713. Trailers and containers through the first 16 weeks of 2011 are at 3,541,068 for an 8.9 percent increase.

Despite the sequential decrease in intermodal volumes, intermodal continues to gain market share and increased interest from shippers that are dealing with increasing fuel costs for over-the-road transportation. That was made clear at last week’s NASSTRAC Logistics Conference and Expo, with several truckload carriers telling LM that their intermodal businesses are on the rise, due to shippers seeking cost relief from rising diesel prices in exchange for an extra day or two of transit times.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 6 were up annually. Grain products were up 20.4 percent, and coke loadings were up 16.5 percent. Coal was down 4.1 percent, and lumber & wood products were down 13.4 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 32.5 billion for a 0.6 percent annual decrease, and on a year-to-date basis, the 523.0 billion ton-miles recorded are up 5.3 percent.

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About the Author

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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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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