Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Railroad shipping: AAR reports rail volumes remain up but have leveled off

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 28, 2010

Following 12 straight weeks of traffic growth, the Association of American Railroads reported that volumes for the week ending May 20 have leveled off, although they remain up on an annual basis.

Weekly carload volumes—at 288,114—were up 10.6 percent year-over-year and down 12.4 percent from 2008. This trails the week ending May 15 which came in at 290,263 and is nearly even with the week ending May 8 at 288,905. 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 8.6 percent year-over-year and down 8.1 percent compared to 2008. And in the East carloads were up 13.6 percent year-over-year and down 17.9 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 215,118 trailers and containers—were up 12.7 percent year-over-year and down 7.9 percent from 208. This trails the week ending May15, which hit 218,206 (marking the highest week for total intermodal volume since the 47th week of 2008). Total intermodal loadings were above the weeks ending May 8 and May 1, which hit and 208,809 and 213,013

Intermodal container volume was up 14.4 percent year-over-year and down 0.7 percent compared to 2008. Intermodal trailer volume was up 3.9 percent year-over-year and down 34.4 percent compared to 2008. 

Robert W. Baird and Co. analyst Jon Langenfeld wrote in a research note that intermodal is well-positioned for continued growth.

“We expect both domestic and international growth to continue given ongoing domestic truckload conversion and economic growth,” Langenfeld wrote. “Tightened intermodal container capacity should support intermodal rail rate increases.”

And Avondale Partners analyst Donald Broughton pointed out that on a three-week average basis, total US carloads are up 13.9% from prior year levels. Broughton said he expects this comparison to continue to improve until about mid-year his firm compares data to a relatively soft spring on a year-ago basis.

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 5,636,940 carloads are up 6.5 percent year-over-year and down 13.7 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 4,108,176 are up 10.4 percent year-over-year and down 8.1 percent compared to 2008.

The strong sequential growth in recent weekly railroad volumes serves as confirmation of previous so-called “green shoots” that railroad volumes were rebounding, according to industry experts.

Of the 19 products tracked by the AAR, 15 were up year-over-year, with metallic ores up 10.2 percent and metals up 79.7. Farm products excluding grain were down 12.2 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 32.1 billion ton-miles, an 11.8 percent year-over-year gain. And total volume year-to-date at 618.0 billion ton-miles was up 7.5 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).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

With NFL training camps in full swing, it stands to reason that Congress must be replete with football fans, given how it basically has elected to punt on federal transportation funding yet again, with the Senate yesterday signing off on a ten-month bill to keep federal surface transportation funding intact through May 2015 through a nearly $11 billion stopgap measure.

Carload volumes were up 4.3 percent at 306,988, and intermodal volume for the week ending July 26 was up 3.3 percent at 264,809

Lyon, France-based Norbert Dentressangle, a $5.5 billion global third-party logistics (3PL) services provider focused on global logistics, transport, ocean, and air services, said today it has acquired Des Moines, Iowa-based Jacobson Companies, a value-added warehousing (VAW) company, for $750 million from private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Download the newly released research report, "Transportation Management Systems" conducted by Peerless Research Group (PRG) on behalf of Supply Chain Management Review and Logistics Management magazines. Learn what logistic experts are saying about their current supply chain technology infrastructures, how they tackle the transportation component, and revealed the gaps that still need to be filled in order to attain end to-end visibility of a streamlined supply chain.

From cost center to growth center. Get insightful opinions on changes in the marketplace from this independent survey of warehouse personnel. Motorola Solutions examined the current warehousing marketplace in our 2013 Warehouse Vision Report, conducted April-May of 2013.

Article Topics

News · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA