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Railroad shipping: AAR reports carload and intermodal volumes up for week ending October 9

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
October 15, 2010

Railroad volumes for the week ending October 9 remained consistent with previously solid weeks and were up year-over-year, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 297,029 was up 8.8 percent year-over-year. This was down slightly compared to the week ending October 2, which hit 299,394 carloads and the week ending September 25 at 300,908 carloads and the week ending September 18 at 304,679 carloads.

Carload volume in the East was up 4.7 percent year-over-year Out West, carloads were up 11.6 percent year-over-year.

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. With this week’s release, the AAR said it will no longer include 2008 annual comparisons in its week volume releases, because “October 2008 marked the beginning of the recession-related downturn in rail traffic.”

Even with the railroads in recovery mode, current volumes are still roughly 15 percent below the peak, and annual gains occurring in 2010 are against a 2009 which has been described as the worst year for railroad traffic since deregulation, according to industry analysts.

Intermodal, which has been gaining strength for a sustained period, hit 232,272 trailers and containers for the week ending October 9, falling below the week ending October 2 at 240,252 trailers and containers for a 13.1 percent yearly increase. This fell short of the week ending September 25 at 241,167—a 2010 high.

Container volume at 201,504 was up 13.1 percent, and trailer volume at 34,768 was up 7.4 percent.

Intermodal marketing company executives say that shippers are turning to intermodal more as a cost-effective and efficient alternative to trucking. But he cautioned that as volumes increase, railroads and IMC’s need to focus on maintaining high service levels for shippers.

Year-to-date, total U.S. carload volumes at 11,425258 carloads are up 7.2 percent year-over-year. Trailers or containers at 8,658,978 are up 14.7 percent year-over-year.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 15 were up year-over-year. Metallic ores were up 199.7 percent.
Weekly rail volume was estimated at 33.8 billion ton-miles, a 9.4 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 1,257.8 billion ton-miles was up 8.4 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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