Intermodal leads the way on the rails for the week ending August 14, says AAR

Volumes on United States railways were up year-over-year for the week ending August 14, with intermodal hitting its highest levels of the year, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

By ·

Volumes on United States railways were up year-over-year for the week ending August 14, with intermodal hitting its highest levels of the year, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Weekly carload volumes—at 295,948—were up 7.1 percent year-over-year and down 11.3 percent compared to 2008. It topped the week ending August 7, which hit 284,507, and fell short of the week ending July 31, which hit 300,292 carloads, which is the best weekly carload output for all of 2010.

In October 2009, the AAR began reporting weekly rail traffic with year-over-year comparisons for the previous two years, due to the fact that the economic downturn was in full effect at this time a year ago, and global trade was bottoming and economic activity was below current levels.

Carload volume in the East was up 6.4 percent year-over-year and down 12.8 percent compared to 2008. And out West carloads were up 7.6 percent year-over-year and down 10.2 percent compared to 2008.

Intermodal traffic—at 233,767 trailers and containers—was up 20.8 percent year-over-year and up down 1.4 percent compared to 2008. This eclipsed the week ending August 7 at 231,208, and the week ending July 31 at 232,985 trailers and containers, which previously marked the highest intermodal levels in 2010, beating the week ending July 3, which hit 231,286. The week ending July 3 was the highest intermodal output since week 42 of 2008. Intermodal container volume—at 199,859— was up 22.4 percent compared to 2009 and up 6.4 percent compared to 2008. AAR officials said this is the highest weekly intermodal container tally on record. And trailer volume—at 33,908— was up 12.3 percent and down 31 percent compared to 2008.

As LM has reported, domestic intermodal performance continues to be strong, due, in part, to a tightening of truckload capacity, which has some shippers converting to intermodal. This is indicative, said the AAR, of a years-long trend of domestic freight converting from truck trailers to containers on rail; truck trailers can be double-stacked, which makes them more cost-efficient and effective.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Larkin wrote in a research note that the growth in intermodal loads should grow at a faster rate than loads hauled over the highway
as fuel prices likely increase, highways become increasingly congested, the North American rails make further investments to intermodal corridors and terminals,  and federal and local governments provide a portion of the funding for certain intermodal infrastructure projects, among other factors.

And rail industry stakeholders remain optimistic about railroad growth throughout the remainder of 2010. Among the things they have pointed to include increased industrial production growth in the form of manufacturing and new orders indices, as well as gradual consumer spending, among other factors, as drivers for these gains. But even though volumes are slowly recovering, they are still below previous peak levels.

While volumes remain below these previous peak levels, they are starting to face tougher year-over-year comparisons through the remainder of 2010, given the fact that 2009 was a down year for the rails in terms of volume growth.

On a year-to-date basis, total U.S. carload volumes at 9,041,726 carloads are up 7.2 percent year-over-year and down 13.1 percent compared to 2008. Trailers or containers at 6,783,820 are up 13.9 percent year-over-year and down 5.7 percent compared to 2008.

Of the 19 carload commodities tracked by the AAR, 16 were up year-over-year. Metallic ores were up 65.4 percent and metals & products were up 38.8 percent. Grain loadings were down 8.8 percent.

Weekly rail volume was estimated at 32.5 billion ton-miles, an 8.7 percent year-over-year increase. And total volume year-to-date at 994.9 billion ton-miles was up 8.3 percent year-over-year.

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

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

AAR · Carload · Intermodal · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) / Inventory Management Technology: 6 Trends for the Modern Age
Here’s how the next generation of warehouse and inventory management systems are evolving to help logistics operations operate more efficiently and improve their bottom lines in our brave, new digital age.
Download Today!
From the March 2018 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
We know e-commerce is reshaping logistics, but what are the technologies savvy managers can leverage to meet evolving requirements and shifting operational constraints? We’ve rounded up insights from leading analysts to share tools that are available now as well as what’s on the horizon.
Reverse Logistics in the “Age of Entitlement”
Logistics Management’s Viewpoint on E-commerce: Leveraging available tools
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Securing IoT data across the connected supply chain
Learn why a holistic approach to IAM is the most effective way to govern access to your systems and information requested by your partners, vendors, customers, and connected devices.
Register Today!
Evolution of E-commerce: The possibilities of tomorrow
We know e-commerce is reshaping logistics, but what are the technologies savvy managers can leverage...
State of Global Logistics: Delivering above and beyond
Industry experts agree that costs across all sectors worldwide will continue to rise in 2018, and...

2018 Rate Outlook: Economic Expansion, Pushing Rates Skyward
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued...
Building the NextGen Supply Chain: Keeping pace with the digital economy
Peerless Media’s 2017 Virtual Summit shows how creating a data-rich ecosystem can eliminate...