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Railroad shipping: Carload and intermodal volumes hold steady for week ending June 26, says AAR

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
July 02, 2010

More of the same appears to the theme when looking at railroad volumes in recent weeks, with volumes for the week ending June 26 up year-over-year and down compared to 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).


Weekly carload volumes—at 284,716—were up 11.4 percent year-over-year and down 13.2 percent compared to 2008. This was slightly below the week ending June 19 which came in at 284,913 and fell short to the week ending June 12 at 288,973.

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 14.5 percent year-over-year and down 15.9 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 9.2 percent year-over-year and down 11.1 percent compared to 2008.

Intermodal traffic continued its strong performance—at 227,229 trailers and containers—which was down slightly from the previous week’s 227,985. Traffic was up 20.5 percent year-over-year and down 1.1 percent compared to 2008.

Industry analysts 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 7,052,186 carloads are up 7.4 percent year-over-year and down 13.4 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 5,203,606 are up 12.1 percent year-over-year and down 7 percent compared to 2008.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 17 were up year-over-year. Metals & metal products were up 75.4 percent, and metallic ores were up 172.2 percent. Showing declines were grain mill products -7.3 percent and primary forest products at -9.9 percent, among others.

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 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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