AAR reports February 2013 carload and intermodal volumes are mixed
February carloads—at 1,113,843—were down 1.1 percent annually, and intermodal—at 983,078 trailers and containers—was up 10.5 percent compared to February 2012, representing the largest annual monthly increase since December 2010.
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Mixed volumes continue to be the main theme on the nation’s railroads and February was no exception, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
February carloads—at 1,113,843—were down 1.1 percent annually, and carloads excluding coal and grain saw a 4.5 percent annual gain.
And intermodal—at 983,078 trailers and containers—was up 10.5 percent compared to February 2012, representing the largest annual monthly increase since December 2010, according to the AAR. It added that February’s weekly intermodal average of 245,770 is the highest weekly average for any February since the AAR began tracking this data.
“Rail intermodal traffic continues to grow,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “In February, year-over-year intermodal volume on U.S. railroads rose for the 39th straight week, and February saw the first double-digit year-over-year increase in two years. Shippers find intermodal appealing for a lot of reasons, including fuel savings, higher trucking costs, and service that has become much better in recent years.”
Several commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw gains in February, including petroleum and petroleum products up 64.2 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand up 17.2 percent, and motor vehicle and parts up 2.6 percent. Commodities seeing declines were coal down 4.8 percent, grain down 17.8 percent, and primary metal products down 7.1 percent.
For the week ending March 2, the AAR said that carloads—at 283,819—were up 0.2 percent annually, which was ahead of the week ending February 23 at 278,059 and the week ending February 16 at 278,596. Intermodal for the week ending March 2—at 249,238 trailers and containers—was up 9.7 percent and ahead of the week ending February 23 at 238,083 and below the week ending February 16 at 251,078.
About the AuthorJeff 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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Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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