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AAR Reports October 2010 Rail Traffic Continues Mixed Progress

November 9, 2010
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that monthly rail carloads for October 2010 were up 8.7 percent compared with the same period last year, but still down 7.9 percent compared with October 2008. 

According to AAR’s November Rail Time Indicators Report (RTI), the weekly average of 299,108 carloads last month was the highest since October 2008. RTI, available at www.aar.org, comprises detailed monthly rail traffic data framed with other key economic indicators to show how freight rail ties into the broader U.S. economy.

Intermodal traffic in October was up 14.0 percent compared with the same month in 2009, and up slightly by 1.2 percent compared with October 2008. The weekly average of 235,444 intermodal units last month was the highest since October 2007, and the 12th highest weekly monthly average for intermodal on record.

"Last week the government announced that GDP grew roughly two percent in the third quarter of 2010. Rail traffic in October suggests that similarly moderate growth is continuing into the fourth quarter,” said AAR senior vice president John T. Gray. “Just like our nation’s economy still has further to go to full recovery, so does rail traffic. Still, traffic is much better than it was a year ago, especially on the intermodal side, and railroads look forward to continuing to move the economy forward.”

Seasonally adjusted AAR data for October showed a slight month-to-month dip in carloads, down 0.5 percent from September 2010, as well as in intermodal traffic, down 0.9 percent from the month before.

On an unadjusted basis, October also saw carload gains in 15 of the 19 commodity groups tracked by AAR compared with the same period last year. Four categories in particular continue to see sharp gains: metallic ores up 190.0 percent; primary metal products up 21 percent, crushed stone, gravel, and sand up 25.5 percent, and stone, clay, and glass products up 23.1 percent from the same month last year.

Railroads continue to bring employees back to work and cars out of storage. During the month of September, the most recent period for company employment data, railroads added 1,169 people to the employee rolls. Railroads brought 12,799 rail cars out of storage in October, with 318,275 cars, or roughly 20.8 percent of the North American railcar fleet, still in storage. 

For more information, visit www.aar.org.