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Railroad shipping: AAR reports August 2011 volumes are mixed

By Staff
September 08, 2011

As has been the case in previous months, the Association for American Railroads (AAR) reported that carload and intermodal volumes in August were mixed.

August carloads—at 1,482,570—were down 0.3 percent annually. Intermodal—at 1,179,838 trailers and containers—was up 0.4 percent compared to August 2010.

Of the 20 major commodities tracked by the AAR, 12 were up on an annual basis in August. Metallic ores were up 16.6 percent, and motor vehicles and parts were up 5.7 percent. Grain was down 17.1 percent, and coal was down 1.7 percent. And the AAR said that excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads for August were up 3.7 percent compared to August 2010.

The AAR also reported that as of September 1, 271,404 freight cars were in storage, which represents 5,539 fewer cars than August 1. 

For the week ending September 3, the AAR said that carload volumes—at 303,260—were down 0.4 percent annually. Intermodal—at 233,941 trailers and containers—was down 1.3 percent

Metallic ores led commodity gains for the week with a 24.5 percent increase year-over-year, and farm products excluding grain were down 23.9 percent.

Carload volume in the East was down 0.8 percent for the week and out West it was down 0.2 percent compared to the same week a year ago.

Through the first 35 weeks of 2011, the AAR said cumulative carload volume—at 10,133,479—was up 1.9 percent, and trailers and containers—at 7,931,620—was up 5.8 percent.

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Carload volumes were up 2.8 percent at 304,276, and intermodal volume for the week ending August 16 was up 5.4 percent at 270,316 containers and trailers.

Even though this data can be viewed as “old” in the sense that there is not a whole lot new to report about the port labor talks, it does a good job of looking into the mindset of shippers as talks continue.

Company officials said this service will be provided without any type of additional cost for customer shipments traveling from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, with expedited services available to customers outside of this area.

FTR says both spot rates and contract rates are heading up in a full capacity environment and with the fall shipping season rapidly approaching, it explained conditions for shippers could further deteriorate.

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