WASHINGTON — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads is continuing to show solid signs of recovery with carload freight volume hitting its highest level since November 2008 during the week ended March 27, 2010, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday.
U.S. railroads originated 293,114 carloads during the week, up 16.5 percent from the comparable week in 2009, but down 11.6 percent from 2008. This was the highest weekly carload total since the week ended November 29, 2008. In order to offer a complete picture of the progress in rail traffic, AAR now reports 2010 weekly rail traffic with comparison weeks in both 2009 and 2008.
Intermodal traffic totaled 210,914 trailers and containers, up 12 percent from last year but down 5.3 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 14.4 percent and trailer volume edged up 0.3 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was up 2.1 percent while trailer volume fell 32.3 percent.
Total volume for the week was estimated at 31.7 billion ton-miles, up 17.4 percent from last year but down 9.2 percent from 2008.
In the Western U.S., carloads were up 22.3 percent compared with the same week last year, but down 10.4 percent compared with 2008. In the Eastern U.S., carloads were up 9.1 percent compared with 2009, but down 13.4 percent compared with 2008.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups showed gains from a year ago, with 13 showing double digit percentage increases. Loadings of metals jumped 63 percent while waste and scrap gained 37.4 percent and metallic ores rose 36.1 percent. Other notable increases included motor vehicles and equipment, 28.5 percent; grain, 22.3 percent; coal 15.2 percent; and chemicals, 14.1 percent. The lone commodity showing a drop was pulp, paper and allied products, off 11 percent.
For the first 12 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,300,411 carloads, up 1.5 percent from 2009, but down 14.9 percent from 2008; 2,430,974 trailers or containers, up 8.6 percent from 2009, but down 8.4 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 358.8 billion ton-miles, up 2.5 percent from 2009 but down 12.1 percent from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 75,378 cars for the week, up 24.3 percent from last year, and 45,647 trailers or containers, up 10.3 percent from 2009. For the first 12 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 862,957 carloads, up 15.9 percent from last year, and 526,712 trailers or containers, up 7.5 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 14,617 cars, up 26.7 percent from the same week last year, and 6,608 trailers or containers, up 34.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2010 was reported as 161,552 carloads, up 21.3 percent from last year; and 78,475 trailers or containers, up 40.6 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 4,324,920 carloads, up 4.8 percent from last year.
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