Rail traffic up for week ending March 5, according to AAR
March 11, 2011 - LM Editorial
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that volumes for the week ending March were up annually.
Carload volume at 300,953 was up 5.5 percent year-over-year and was ahead of the week ending February 26 at 296,252 and the week ending February 19 at 296,980. Carload volume was up 0.3 percent in the East and up 9.2 percent out West.
Intermodal volumes were up 1 percent year-over-year, with trailers and containers hitting 214,343, which was behind the weeks ending February 26 and February 19 at 220,589 and 233,993, respectively.
As LM has reported, 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 earnings results from multiple Class I carriers, which pointed to continued pricing and volume increases.
The AAR said that 14 of the 20 commodity groups the AAR tracks saw annual growth for the week ending March 5, with metallic ores up 105.2 percent, motor vehicles and equipment up 20.8 percent, and petroleum products up 18.6 percent.
Estimated ton-miles for the week were 34.0 billion for a 6.9 percent annual increase, and on a year-to-date basis, the 290.3 billion ton-miles recorded are up 7.1 percent.
Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene wrote in a research note that his firm’s historical seasonality-driven volume forecasts imply that mid single-digit volume growth for 2011 remains likely for most rails with upside toward the high single-digits. And he added that
January 2011 industry employment levels, in conjunction with volume trends, point to continued strength in incremental margins, with firmer truck pricing being supportive of rail price growth.
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