AAR says weekly rail volumes are up for week ending April 9
April 15, 2011 - LM Editorial
Rail carload and intermodal volumes had another week of annual growth, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
For the week ending April 9, carload volume came in at 293,798 for a 1.8 percent annual gain. This fell short of the week ending April 2, which hit 305,905 carloads, marking the highest weekly carload tally since the end of 2008. But it was ahead of the week ending March 26 at 200,903 and line with the week ending March 19 at 292,164.
Carload volume was down 0.3 percent in the East and up 3.3 percent out West. Total carloads currently stand at 4,067,747 for a 4.8 percent year-over-year increase on a year-to-date basis.
Intermodal volume for the week ending April 9 was up 12.4 percent at 228,713 trailers and containers, which was behind the week ending April 2 at 234,308 and ahead of the week ending March 26 at 223,034.
As was the case in 2008, increasing diesel prices are driving modal shifts from over-the-road trucking to intermodal to a certain extent. This was also reflected in yesterday’s first quarter earnings release from J.B. Hunt, with the trucking and intermodal giant reporting that intermodal revenue was nearly 60 percent annually and revenue per intermodal load at $2,065 up nearly 7 percent.
As LM has reported, railroad volumes are off to a solid start in 2010 especially when considering the havoc caused by harsh weather conditions in various parts of the country. What’s more, Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene observed in a research note that “rail traffic ended the quarter on a positive note with trends surpassing normal seasonality and with all rails exceeding YTD YoY growth rates in the final week of the quarter.”
Volumes continue to show steady growth on an annual and sequential basis, while the percentage levels of annual gains are lessening due to the fact that 2010 was being compared to a dismal 2009, a low point for freight transportation volumes.
Of the 20 commodity groups tracked by the AAR, 11 were up annually. Motor vehicles and equipment were up 28.9 percent, and metallic ores were up 59.2 percent. Primary forest products were down 33.2 percent and coke was down 16.7 percent.
Estimated ton-miles for the week were 32.6 billion for a 2.8 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 457.7 billion ton-miles recorded are up 6.0 percent.
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