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AAR Reports Rail Intermodal Volume at Highest Level Since November 2008

June 4, 2010
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that intermodal volume on U.S. freight railroads for the week ended May 29, 2010, reached its highest level since November 2008.

Intermodal traffic totaled 225,111 trailers and containers, up 35.5 percent from last year and 10.3 percent from 2008. Unlike 2008 and 2009, Week 21 of 2010 did not include the Memorial Day holiday. 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.

Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 37.5 percent while trailer volume rose 25.2 percent. In comparison to 2008, container volume was up 19.4 percent while trailer volume fell 23.3 percent.

U.S. railroads also originated 286,665 carloads during the week ended May 29, up 21.9 percent from the comparable week in 2009, but down 8.9 percent from 2008. All 19 carload commodities increased from the comparable week in 2009 and three groups posted increases over 2008 levels. Farm products excluding grain posted the most significant increase, up 41.1 percent over 2008. Lumber and wood products, down 29.2 percent; metallic ores, down 23.9 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, down 21.8 percent; and pulp, paper, and allied products, down 21.1 percent, posted the most significant declines when compared to 2008 numbers.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 41.1 percent from last year, but down 10.9 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 11.1 percent from last year but down 7.5 percent from two years ago.

For the first 21 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,923,333 carloads, up 7.2 percent from 2009, but down 13.5 percent from 2008, and 4,333,559 trailers or containers, up 11.5 percent from 2009, but down 7.3 percent from 2008.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 70,699 cars for the week, up 29.7 percent from last year, and 46,374 trailers or containers, up 20.6 percent from 2009. For the first 21 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,522,338 carloads, up 21 percent from last year, and 943,179 trailers or containers, up 11.2 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 15,390 cars, up 24.2 percent from the same week last year, and 6,915 trailers or containers, up 37.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 21 weeks of 2010 was reported as 283,687 carloads, up 22.6 percent from last year; and 135,404 trailers or containers, up 34.7 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 21 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 7,729,358 carloads, up 10.2 percent from last year, and 5,412,142 trailers and containers, up 11.9 percent from last year.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world's leading railroad policy, research, and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads, or Class I railroads, of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Class I railroads represent 67 percent of the U.S. freight rail mileage and 90 percent of freight railroad industry employees. Railroads account for 43 percent of intercity freight volume — more than any other mode of transportation. Historic weekly and monthly rail statistics are available at www.aar.org.