Rail volumes are up for week ending August 4, says AAR

Carload volume—at 228,229—was up 0.4 percent annually, and intermodal volumes—at 243,261 trailers and containers—were up 3.3 percent.

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Rail carload and intermodal volumes were up for the week ending August 4, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—at 228,229—was up 0.4 percent annually and behind the week ending July 28 at 288,167 and the week ending July 21 at 286,156. Eastern carloads were up 9 percent annually, and out west carloads were up 6.8 percent.

Intermodal volumes—at 243,261 trailers and containers—were up 3.3 percent compared to the same week last year and were below the week ending July 28 at 250,319 and below the week ending July 21 at 246,475.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 13 were up annually. Petroleum products were up 56.3 percent, lumber and wood products were up 29 percent.

Carloads for the first 31 weeks of 2012—at 8,716,780—were down 2.5 percent compared to the first 31 weeks of 2011, and intermodal was up 3.6 percent at 7,239,062 trailers and containers.

Estimated ton-miles for the week ending August 4 were up 1.2 percent at 33.6 billion, and were down 1.6 percent on a year-to-date basis at 995.8 billion.


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Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
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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