Rail carload and intermodal volumes remain mixed, says AAR
Carload volume—at 270,974—was down 7.7 percent annually, and intermodal volumes—at 231,153—were up 1.1 percent.
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Rail carload and intermodal volumes were again mixed for the week ending April 7, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carload volume—at 270,974—was down 7.7 percent annually and below the week ending March 31 at 286,962 and the week ending March 24 at 278,393, as well as the week ending March 17 at 278,420.
Eastern carloads were down 5.2 percent, and out west carloads were down 9.3 percent.
Intermodal volumes—at 231,153—were up 1.1 percent compared to the same week last year and were below the week ending March 31 at 247,772 and the week ending March 24 at 232,401. It was ahead of the week ending March 17, which recorded 227,138 intermodal units.
Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 9 were up annually. Petroleum products were up 33.3 percent, and primary forest products were up 11.8 percent. Coal was down 16.1 percent, and grain was down 16.6 percent.
Carloads for the first 14 weeks of 2012—at 3,950,064—were down 2.9 percent compared to the first 14 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 2.4 percent at 3,159,598 trailers and containers.
Estimated ton-miles for the week at 30.8 billion were down 7.2 percent, and for the year-to-date it was down 2.1 percent at 449.3 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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