Railroad traffic shows continued gains for week of February 19, says AAR

The week ending February 19 delivered solid year-over-year gains, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

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The week ending February 19 delivered solid year-over-year gains, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 296,980 was up 8.2 percent compared to the same timeframe a year ago and was also ahead of the weeks ending February 12, February 5, and January 29, which checked in at 274,043, 267,682, and 291,147, respectively. The AAR said that carload volume was up 12.7 percent in the East and up 5.4 percent out West.

Intermodal volumes for the week ending February 19 were 233,993 trailers and containers, representing a 16.9 percent annual gain. This was ahead of the week ending February 12 at 228,035 and the week ending February 5 at 198,249.

Railroad carload and intermodal volumes continue to show 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, 16 saw annual growth for the week ending February 19, with metallic ores up 77.6 percent, stone, clay and glass products up 20.2 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment up 16.3 percent. 

Estimated ton-miles for the week were 33.5 billion for a 9.5 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 222.9 billion ton-miles recorded are up 7.7 percent.

Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene wrote in a research note that “rail traffic showed strength in the latest week relative to recent weeks, as volumes rebounded from levels that were depressed by severe weather…[and] intermodal and autos growth rates accelerated significantly and showed particular strength on a year-over-year basis vs. other segments.”

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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

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