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Rail traffic is down for the week ending August 27, says AAR

By Staff
September 02, 2011

Rail traffic was down slightly for the week ending August 27, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—299,943—was down 0.8 percent annually and was down compared to 300,521 during the week of August 20 and ahead of the week ending August 13 at 292,266. 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 1.2 percent in the East and down 0.6 percent out West. Carloads on a year-to-date basis are at 9,830,960 for a 1.9 percent annual increase.

Intermodal volumes for the week at 236,051 was down 0.5 percent compared to a year ago, which was down from the week ending August 20 at 236,980.

Intermodal volumes on a year-to-date basis at 7,697,679 are up 6.1 percent compared to 2010. Shippers continue to turn to intermodal as an alternative to trucking movements, as they can see significant fuel savings in exchange for a longer transit time.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 11 were up annually. Metallic ores were up 26.1 percent, and farm products, excluding grain, were down 20.5 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 34.5 billion which was flat on an annual basis, and on a year-to-date basis, the 1,106.2 billion ton-miles recorded were up 3.0 percent.

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While the volume decline was steep, there was numerous reasons behind it, including terminal congestion, protracted contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and other supply chain-related issues, according to POLA officials.

Truckload rates for the month of January, which measures truckload linehaul rates paid during the month, saw a 7.9 percent annual hike, and intermodal rates dropped 0.3 percent compared to January 2014, which the report pointed out marks the first annual intermodal pricing decline since December 2013.

Largely leveraging the net positive impact of lower fuel prices, the Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) from freight transportation consultancy FTR made major strides in December, the most recent month for which data is available.

With the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) recently agreeing to a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract last weekend covering about 20,000 port employees at 29 West Coast ports following roughly nine months of stops and starts and acrimonious negotiations, the focus for all port and supply chain stakeholders is firmly on the future.

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