Railroad traffic shows rebound from harsh weather for week ending February 12

By Jeff Berman · February 18, 2011

Railroad traffic for the week ending February 12 saw solid year-over-year gains, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carload volume at 274,043 was up 6.2 percent compared to last year and ahead of the week ending February 5 at 267,682. But it lagged behind the week ending January 29 which hit 291,147 and the week ending January 22 at 282,837. The AAR said that carload volume was up 21.8 percent in the East and down 2.5 percent out West.

Intermodal volumes for the week ending February 12 was 228,035 trailers and containers for an 18.5 percent hike. It was also up significantly from the week ending February 5 at 198,249. The week ending February 12 was ahead of the weeks of January 29 and January 22 at 222,742 trailers and containers and ahead of the week ending January 22 at 180,888 trailers and containers.

As LM has reported, while volumes are up annually and at recent levels on a sequential basis, it appears the annual comparisons for railroad data will be less impressive than they were in 2010, considering 2010 comparisons were up against a difficult 2009.

But railroad volume appear to be picking up where 2010 left off, 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 12, with metallic ores up 105.1 percent and farm products excluding grain up 27.4 percent.

Estimated ton-miles were 30.3 billion—matching last week— for a 7.3 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 189.4 billion ton-miles recorded are up 7.4 percent.

While volumes for the week ending February 12 saw some gains over previous weeks, which were negatively impacted by severe weather, Robert W. Baird analyst Jon Langenfeld noted that service issues are likely to persist for two or three weeks before weather-induced network congestion is relieved.

“Decreased average speed and increased dwell time confirm the aftermath of the weather impact,” wrote Langenfeld.

For more articles on railroad shipping, please click here.


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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