WASHINGTON — The Association of American Railroads said Thursday that rail freight traffic is continuing to gain strength as weekly carload volume was at its highest level since the first week of December 2008, and weekly intermodal volume reached its highest level this year.
U.S. railroads originated 298,218 carloads during the week ended April 24, 2010, up 14.6 percent from the comparable week in 2009. However, volume was still down 10.8 percent from 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 212,347 trailers and containers, up 15.1 percent from last year but down 5.4 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 17.3 percent while trailer volume gained 4.2 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was up 2.7 percent while trailer volume fell 34.5 percent.
Carload volume was up 17.9 percent from last year in the East, but down 10.7 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 12.3 percent from last year but down 10.9 percent from two years ago.
All 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by gains in commodities associated with the steel industry: metallic ores, up 163 percent; metals, up 80.2 percent; waste and scrap, up 59.7 percent; and coke, up 12 percent. Other notable increases included 25.3 percent for motor vehicles and equipment; 45.2 percent for primary forest products; 22.8 percent for lumber and wood products; and 13.1 percent for chemicals. Grain was up 20.1 percent, and coal rose 6 percent.
For the first 16 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,473,940 carloads, up 4.6 percent from 2009, but down 14.1 percent from 2008; 3,253,030 trailers or containers, up 9.5 percent from 2009, but down 8.3 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 488.5 billion ton-miles, up 5.6 percent from 2009 but down 10.8 percent from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 75,049 cars for the week, up 22.5 percent from last year, and 45,864 trailers or containers, up 10.1 percent from 2009. For the first 16 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,157,507 carloads, up 17.7 percent from last year, and 706,197 trailers or containers, up 8.7 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 14,016 cars, up 27.3 percent from the same week last year, and 6,164 trailers or containers, up 4.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2010 was reported as 214,772 carloads, up 23.3 percent from last year; and 103,414 trailers or containers, up 37 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 5,846,219 carloads, up 7.6 percent from last year, and 4,062,641 trailers and containers, up 9.9 percent from last year.
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