Rail traffic up for week ending March 12, according to AAR

By Jeff Berman · March 18, 2011

Railroad volumes continued trending in the right direction, with volumes up again for both carload and intermodal for the week ending March 12, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 292,164 was up 1.3 percent compared to the same timeframe last year, but trailed the week ending March 5 at 303,953 and the week ending February 26 at 296,252. Carload volume was down 2.8 percent in the East and up 4.2 percent out West.

On the intermodal side, volumes were up 6.5 percent with 216,828 trailers and containers, which was ahead of the week ending March 5 at 214,343 and behind the week ending February 26 at 220,589.

These volumes are the most recent evidence of railroads continuing to show both annual and sequential growth although, as LM has pointed out, the percentage levels of annual gains are decreasing, due to the fact that 2010 was being compared to 2009, which was a low point for freight transportation volumes. Rail prospects for 2011 remain very encouraging, though, as railroads have been able to maintain solid pricing power in conjunction with volume increases.

The AAR said that 12 of the 20 commodity groups the AAR tracks saw annual growth for the week ending March 12, with metallic ores up 105.3 percent, pulp, paper, and allied products up 17.9 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment up 17.7 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 33.0 billion for a 2.5 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 323.3 billion ton-miles recorded are up 6.6 percent.

Robert W. Baird analyst Jon Langenfeld wrote in a research note that current volume levels are “roughly in line with seasonal trends compared to average [fourth quarter] levels,” adding that the “recent softer volume growth is worth monitoring, though multiple signs exist that the industrial economy has been strong/topic/tag/AAR to start 2011.”

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About the Author

Jeff Berman
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

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