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AAR September carloads down from last year

“September rail traffic is again a mix of good news and bad news,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

The Trucker News Services

10/8/2012

WASHINGTON — The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported U.S. rail carloads originated in September 2012 totaled 1,152,174 carloads, down 3.7 percent (43,746 carloads) compared with September 2011.

Intermodal traffic in September totaled 973,715 containers and trailers, up 2.5 percent (24,126 units) compared with September 2011. September 2012 represents the 34th straight month of intermodal gains. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report released online tomorrow. 

Commodity groups that saw carload gains in September 2012 compared with September 2011 included: petroleum and petroleum products, up 55.7 percent or 16,586 carloads; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 12.3 percent or 9,044 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 5.3 percent or 3,088 carloads.

Commodities with carload declines in September 2012 were led by coal, down 12.1 percent or 65,867 carloads; metallic ores, down 21.7 percent or 7,531 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 13.3 percent or 1,815 carloads. Carloads excluding coal were up 3.4 percent, or 22,121 carloads, in September 2012 over September 2011.

“September rail traffic is again a mix of good news and bad news,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.  “The primary bad news is that coal carloads continue to struggle, due to the various economic and regulatory constraints faced by coal-fired power plants. The good news is that many other key rail traffic categories are offsetting coal’s decline, including petroleum and petroleum products, motor vehicles, crushed stone and sand, and lumber. Intermodal volume has risen for 34 straight months and could very well set a new record this year.” 

AAR today also announced mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 29, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 295,243 carloads, down 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 257,225 trailers and containers, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. This week’s U.S. intermodal originations of 257,225 represent the highest weekly total of the year and the third highest weekly intermodal total ever.

Fourteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 59.4 percent; iron and steel scrap, up 16.6 percent, and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 14.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 19.6 percent; coal, down 17.3, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 11.3 percent. 

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Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2011. 

For the first 39 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,042,405 carloads, down 2.5 percent from the same point last year, and 9,200,508 trailers and containers, up 3.6 percent from last year.

Canadian railroads reported 82,983 carloads for the week, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,995 trailers and containers, up 6.4 percent compared with 2011. For the first 39 weeks of 2012, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,004,841 carloads, up 2.7 percent from the same point last year, and 2,007,347 trailers and containers, up 7 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 14,675 carloads for the week, up 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,115 trailers and containers, up 16 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2012 is 559,273 carloads, or flat compared with the same point last year, and 384,490 trailers and containers, up 18.1 percent from last year.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 14,606,519 carloads, down 1.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 11,592,345 trailers and containers, up 4.6 percent compared with last year.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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