Railroad traffic shows annual gains for week ending February 26, says AAR

By Jeff Berman · March 4, 2011

Railroad volumes continued their steady upswing with a strong showing for the week ending February 26, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 296,252 was up 2.4 percent year-over-year and was slightly behind the week ending February 19, which came in at 296,980. It was ahead of the weeks ending February 12, February 5, and January 29, which checked in at 274,043, 267,682, and 291,147, respectively. Carload volume was up 1.7 percent in the East and up 3 percent out West.

On the intermodal side, total trailer and container volume was 220,589 for a 7.2 percent increase over last year. This trailed the previous week at 233,993.

Railroad carload and intermodal volumes continue to show mostly decent annual and sequential gains, although the annual comparisons are abating because comparisons from 2011 to 2010 will not be as significant as those from 2010 to 2009, which was when freight volume declines were steep. And prospects for 2011 look very encouraging, especially in light of recent fourth-quarter and full-year earnings results from multiple Class I carriers, which pointed to continued pricing and volume increases.

Of the 20 commodity groups the AAR tracks, 14 saw annual growth for the week ending February 26, with metallic ores up 78.2 percent, nonmetallic minerals up 12.4 percent, and stone, clay and glass products up 10.4 percent.

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 33.4 billion for a 3.4 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 256.3 billion ton-miles recorded are up 7.1 percent.

Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene wrote in a research note that “rail traffic trends moderated this week due to (1) normalization post last week’s rebound from weather-driven disruptions and (2) the Presidents’ Day holiday - but remained above levels seen earlier this year continuing the recent, broadly improving volume trend.”

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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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