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AAR Reports Growth in U.S. Rail Freight Traffic Continues

May 7, 2010
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that the growth in rail freight traffic continued during the week ended May 1, 2010, as all 19 carload freight commodities and both intermodal categories were up from a year ago for the second consecutive week.

U.S. railroads originated 295,718 carloads during the week ended May 1, up 16.3 percent from the comparable week in 2009. However, volume was still down 11.6 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 213,013 trailers and containers, up 13.2 percent from last year but down 5.4 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 15.2 percent while trailer volume gained 3.2 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was up 2.3 percent while trailer volume fell 33 percent.

Total volume was estimated at 32.9 billion ton-miles, up 16.7 percent from last year but down 6.5 percent from 2008.

Carload volume was up 22.3 percent from last year in the East, but down 13.1 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 12.5 percent from last year but down 10.6 percent from two years ago.
 
Gains in carload freight were led by a 333.1 percent jump in metallic ore loadings. Loadings of metals were up 109.2 percent, scrap was up 67 percent and coke gained 43.8 percent. Other significant increases included motor vehicles, 25.8 percent; grain, 24.5 percent; lumber, 18 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, 13.9 percent; chemicals, 10.4 percent; and coal, 7.4 percent.

For the first 17 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,769,658 carloads, up 5.3 percent from 2009, but down 13.9 percent from 2008; 3,466,043 trailers or containers, up 9.8 percent from 2009, but down 8.1 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 521.4 billion ton-miles, up 6.2 percent from 2009 but down 10.5 percent from 2008.
 
Canadian railroads reported volume of 75,285 cars for the week, up 29.4 percent from last year, and 47,236 trailers or containers, up 15 percent from 2009. For the first 17 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,232,792 carloads, up 18.3 percent from last year, and 753,433 trailers or containers, up 9 percent from last year.
 
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,730 cars, up 13.3 percent from the same week last year, and 5,507 trailers or containers, up 11.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2010 was reported as 226,628 carloads, up 22.8 percent from last year; and 108,921 trailers or containers, up 35.4 percent.
 
Combined North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 6,229,078 carloads, up 8.2 percent from last year, and 4,328,397 trailers and containers, up 10.2 percent from last year.