Railroad shipping: AAR reports volumes are up for week ending December 10

Carload volume—at 297,400—was up 3.7 percent annually.

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Rail traffic showed gains for both the carload and intermodal volumes for the week ending December 10, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume—at 297,400—was up 3.7 percent annually and behind the week ending December 3, which was at 311,356. It was ahead of the Thanksgiving week ending November 26, which reached 265,304. Prior to Thanksgiving week, the previous five weeks were at or near the 300,000 carload range at 299,591; 298,465; 307,000; 301, 864; and 303,363, respectively.

Eastern carloads were up 6.2 percent, and out west carloads were up 2.2 percent. On a year-to-date basis, carloads—at 14,318,812—are up 1.9 percent.

Intermodal volumes—at 240,899 trailers and containers—were up 3 percent year-over-year. This was down slightly from the week ending December 3 at 243,997 and ahead of the Thanksgiving week of November 26 at 190,866. The two weeks before Thanksgiving hit 244,972, 239,180, and 245,404, respectively. The week ending December 10 was also 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.On a year-to-date basis, intermodal is up 5.1 percent at 10,775,044 trailers and containers.

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.

And at recent industry conferences, shippers, carriers, and logistics services providers sang intermodal’s praises to a large degree, explaining that it is becoming a legitimate alternative to straight over the road trucking, as it is more environmentally friendly, is capable of handling lanes which are considered one-day trips, and that various truckload shippers are working in tandem with railroads on developing intermodal corridors and terminals.

Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 13 were up annually. Metals and products, up 26.6 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 23.1 percent. Farm products excluding grain, down 16.6 percent, and iron and steel scrap, down 10.9 percent.

Estimated ton miles for the week at 35.6 billion were up 4.4 percent and for the year-to-date, they were up 2.9 percent at 1,637.6 billion.


About the Author

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. Contact Jeff Berman

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Hub Group Resources
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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