In 2011, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with 2010 indicating a broad recovery across industry sectors. The largest gains were: metallic ores, up 20.5 percent or 67,631 carloads; primary metal products, up 12 percent or 56,988 carloads; and petroleum products, up 11.1 percent or 36,811 carloads. The commodity with the biggest carload decline in 2011 from 2010 was grain, down 27,946 carloads or 2.4 percent.
“A good beginning, some uncertainness in the middle, and then a good ending—that describes U.S. rail traffic in 2011,” said John Gray, AAR’s senior vice president for policy and economics. “We continue to see hopeful economic signs, as the industry prepares for 2012.”
AAR also announced gains in December 2011 rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 1,134,580 carloads, up 7.3 percent over December 2010, which is the largest year-over-year monthly increase since January 2011. U.S. rail intermodal originations totaled 873,390 containers and trailers, up 9.4 percent over December 2010. This is the second-highest monthly intermodal average for any December in history.
During December 2011, 16 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw increases compared with December 2010.
AAR reported gains in weekly rail traffic for the week ending December 31, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 245,666 carloads, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 181,217 trailers and containers, up 8.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 35.2 percent; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 23.8 percent, and metals and products, up 15.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: farm products, excluding grain, down 7.6 percent; primary forest products, down 6.5 percent, and food and kindred products, down 6.1 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2010.
For the 52 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 15,155,992 carloads, up 2.2 percent from last year, and 11,892,431 trailers and containers, up 5.4 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 66,683 carloads for the week, up 10.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 34,787 trailers and containers, up 5.4 percent compared with 2010. For 2011, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,927,217 carloads, up 3.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,505,081 trailers and containers, up 2.4 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 10,114 carloads for the week, down 12.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 5,729 trailers and containers, up 22.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for 2011 was 739,320 carloads, up 3.7 percent compared to last year, and 436,974 trailers and containers, up 23.7 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 19,822,529 carloads, up 2.5 percent compared to last year, and 14,834,486 trailers and containers, up 5.3 percent compared with last year.
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