Railroad shipping: Intermodal leads the way again for weekly traffic, says AAR

By Jeff Berman · October 1, 2010

Another week, another 2010 record for intermodal volumes. That seems to be the case these days, according to data released this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Following the week of September 18, which saw intermodal volumes at 240,013 trailers and containers and container volume at 205,332, the week ending September 25 trumped that tally. Intermodal data came in at 241,167 trailers and containers for a 17.3 percent annual gain and a 2.1 percent decline from 2008, and container volume hit 206,535 for a 19.2 percent improvement—both marking new 2010 records. Intermodal trailer volume for the week ending September 25 hit 34,632 for a 7 percent annual uptick and a 32.8 percent dip compared to 2008.

An executive at a large intermodal marketing company told LM at this week’s Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Annual Conference that shippers are turning to intermodal more as a cost-effective and efficient alternative to trucking. But he cautioned that as volumes increase, railroads and IMC’s need to focus on maintaining high service levels for shippers.

Carload volumes came in at 300,908 for a 10.7 percent increase from 2009 and an 8.2 percent decline from 2008.

On a sequential basis, this was down compared to the week ending September 18 at 304,679. Carload volume in the East was up 10.4 percent year-over-year and down 10.8 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 10.9 percent year-over-year and down 6.3 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.

Year-to-date, total U.S. carload volumes at 10,828,835 carloads are up 7.2 percent year-over-year and down 12.3 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 8,182,454 are up 14.7 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 and 14 were down compared to 2008. Farm products excluding grain up were 63.9 percent, and coke loadings were up 33.1 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 33.0 billion ton-miles, a 12.6 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 1,191.1 billion ton-miles was up 8.3 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

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
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo