Railroad shipping: Intermodal hits another 2010 high, says AAR

Railroad volumes returned to their recent trend of record-breaking volumes for the week ending September 18, with intermodal volumes on U.S. railways setting a new 2010 record along with containers hitting its highest level ever, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

By ·

Railroad volumes returned to their recent trend of record-breaking volumes for the week ending September 18, with intermodal volumes on U.S. railways setting a new 2010 record along with containers hitting its highest level ever, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Intermodal volume—at 240,013 trailers and containers—was up 16.9 percent year-over-year and up 2.4 percent compared to 2008. The previous 2010 high for intermodal occurred during the week ending August 28 at 237,194 trailers and containers. Container volume—at 205,332—was up 18.8 percent year-over-year. And trailer volume—at 34,481—was up 6.5 percent.

Carload volumes came in at 304,679 for an 8.1 percent annual gain and a 2.4 percent decline compared to 2008, said the AAR. Carload volume in the East was up 8.2 percent year-over-year and down 9.1 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 8 percent year-over-year and up 2.7 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.

While rail volumes are relatively healthy, current volumes are still below previous peak levels and are starting to face tougher year-over-year comparisons through the remainder of 2010, given the fact that 2009 was a down year for the rails in terms of volume growth.


Dahlman Rose transportation analyst Jason Seidl wrote in a research note that at his firm’s recently-held transportation conference that executives from leading Class I and short line railroads provided a much needed breath of fresh air by voicing optimism regarding the current state and prospects of the North American railroad industry and overall global economy.

“While they expressed some caution, none believed that a double-dip recession is likely to occur,” wrote Seidl. “Instead, they described a steady and sustainable, albeit slow, recovery, evident in their unique insight into multiple components of the economy and their recent interactions with their customers. The railroads noted continued strength in intermodal and automotive traffic.”

Year-to-date, total U.S. carload volumes at 10,527,927 carloads are up 7.1 percent year-over-year and down 12.4 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 7,941,287 are up 14.6 percent year-over-year and down 4.7 percent compared to 2008.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 17 were up year-over-year. Metallic ores were up 94.6 percent and farm products excluding grain up 19.8 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 33.5 billion ton-miles, a 9.5 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 1,158.1 billion ton-miles was up 8.2 percent year-over-year.


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

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!

Article Topics

AAR · Carload · Intermodal · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
How Lean is your Lean Quality Program?
Avoid quality program bureaucracy that can sap logistics productivity and increase costs
Download Today!
From the September 2016 Issue
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and organizational structure—finds many companies waiting to commit to a strategic path. However, waiting too long will only result in a competitive disadvantage that will be difficult to overcome in today’s fast-paced, global economy.
Time for Asia’s ports to rebuild
Is the freight recession upon us…again?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Supply Chain Best Practices: Visibility to In-Transit Inventory
During this webcast you'll learn on how various organizations have gained instant access to in-transit parcels and given access to this information to stakeholders.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...

Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....