Railroad shipping: Carload and intermodal volumes for week ending July 3 stay up

By Jeff Berman · July 9, 2010

Like preceding weeks, railroad volumes for the week ending July 3 were up year-over-year and down compared to 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). 


Weekly carload volumes—at 286,777—were up 18.8 percent year-over-year and up 0.4 percent compared to 2008. This was ahead of the week ending June 26 which came in at 284,716 and the week ending June 12 at 284,913. The week ending April 24, which hit 294,218 carloads, is the highest weekly carload level since December 2008, according to the AAR.

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.

Carload volume in the East was up 36.8 percent year-over-year and up 5.5 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 9.5 percent year-over-year and down 2.7 percent compared to 2008.

Intermodal traffic again continued its roll—at 231,286 trailers and containers—which the AAR said was its highest output since week 42 of 2008. This passed the week ending June 26, which hit 227,229 trailers and containers and the week ending June 19 at 227,985.

As LM has previously reported rail industry stakeholders remain optimistic about railroad growth throughout the remainder of 2010. Among the things they have pointed to include 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. But even though volumes are slowly recovering, they are still well below previous peak levels.

And volumes are likely to remain strong on a year-over-year basis until at least mid-summer for most of the major carload categories, wrote Avondale Partners analyst Donald Broughton in a research note.

On a year-to-date basis, total U.S. carload volumes at 7,338,963 carloads are up 7.8 percent year-over-year and down 12.9 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 5,434,892 are up 12.9 percent year-over-year and down 6.2 percent compared to 2008.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 18 were up year-over-year. Metallic ores were up 205.5 percent and motor vehicles and equipment were up 122 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 31.6 billion ton-miles, a 12.1 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 775.9 billion ton-miles was up 8.5 percent year-over-year.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
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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