Railroad shipping: AAR reports mixed volumes gains for week ending October 22

Carload volume—at 301,864—was down 0.5 percent year-over-year and behind the week ending October 15, which hit 303,363.

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Rail traffic was again mixed for the week ending October 22, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—at 301,864—was down 0.5 percent year-over-year and behind the week ending October 15, which hit 303,363 and the weeks ending October 8 and October 1, which hit 302,500 and 312,170, respectively. The week ending October 1 is the highest weekly carload mark for 2011, according to AAR data.

Eastern carloads were up 0.1 percent, and out west carloads were down 0.9 percent. On a year-to-date basis, carloads—at 12,236,877—are up 1.7 percent, matching last week’s annual carload gain.

Intermodal volumes at 245,404 trailers and containers were up 4.2 percent annually and ahead of last week’s 244,389 trailers and containers and the week ending October 8 at 241,999. It was behind the week ending October 1, which hit 250,864 for the highest weekly total for 2011 and highest weekly tally since week 39 of 2007.

Intermodal volumes of 9,613,018 trailers and containers for the year-to-date are 5.3 percent ahead of last year’s pace. As LM has reported, shippers continue to turn to intermodal as an alternative to trucking movements, as they can see significant fuel savings in exchange for a longer transit time.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, ten were up annually. Nonmetallic minerals were up 22.4 percent, and grain was down 25.6 percent.

Estimated ton miles for the week at 36.1 billion were up 0.6 percent and for the year-to-date, they were up 2.7 percent at 1,387.7 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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