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Railroad shipping: AAR reports carload and intermodal gains for week ending May 29

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
June 03, 2010

As railroad volumes continue to show steady improvement on an annual basis, the week ending May 29 was no exception with carload and intermodal volumes both showing gains, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Weekly carload volumes—at 286,665—were up 21.9 percent year-over-year and down 8.9 percent from 2008. This fell short of the week ending May 22, which hit 288,114 and the week ending May 15, which hit 290,263. The week ending April 24, which hit 294,218 carloads, is the highest weekly carload level since December 2008, according to the AAR.

Carloads in the West were up 11.1 percent year-over-year and down 7.5 percent compared to 2008. And in the East carloads were up 41.1 percent year-over-year and down 10.9 percent compared to 2008.

In October 2009, the AAR began reporting weekly rail traffic with year-over-year comparisons for the previous two years, due to the fact that the economic downturn was in full effect at this time a year ago, and global trade was bottoming and economic activity was below current levels.

Intermodal container and trailer volumes—at 225,111 trailers and containers—were up 35.5 percent year-over-year and 10.3 percent from 2008, representing the highest weekly total for intermodal loadings since November 2008. This outperformed the weeks ending May 22 and May 15, which hit 215,118 and 218,206 containers and trailers, respectively.

Intermodal container volume was up 37.5 percent year-over-year and 19.4 percent compared to 2008. Intermodal trailer volume was up 25.2 percent year-over-year and down 23.3 percent compared to 2008. 

As LM has reported, recent railroad volume growth could lead to a bright picture for the remainder of 2010, according to industry analysts.

These analysts have cited increased industrial production growth in the form of manufacturing and new orders indices, as well as gradual consumer spending, among other factors, as drivers for these gains.

On a year-to-date basis, total U.S. carload volumes at 5,923,333 carloads are up 7.2 percent year-over-year and down 13.5 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 4,333,559 are up 11.5 percent year-over-year and down 7.3 percent compared to 2008.

All of the 19 products tracked by the AAR, with three commodities up over 2008 levels. Grain was up 15.5 percent, and metallic ores and metals & products up 285.9 percent and 126.9 percent, respectively.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 32.0 billion ton-miles, a 22.6 percent year-over-year gain. And total volume year-to-date at 650.0 billion ton-miles was up 8.2 percent year-over-year.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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