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AAR Reports Weekly Rail Traffic Remains Up Over 2009 During Post-Holiday Week

January 7, 2011

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported an increase in weekly rail traffic for the post-holiday week ending Jan. 1, 2011, with U.S. freight railroads originating 240,073 carloads, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2009. Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 166,894 trailers and containers, up 11.9 percent compared with the same week in 2009, with container volume up 10.9 percent and trailer volume up 18.1 percent. 

For the full 52 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads originated 14,820,128 carloads, up 7.3 percent from last year, but down 10 percent from 2008. Cumulative intermodal traffic totaled 11,282,336 trailers and containers, up 14.2 percent from the comparison week in 2009, but down 1.9 percent when compared with 2008. A complete summary of the annual rail traffic data will be included in the January 2011 Rail Time Indicators report which will be released by AAR on Monday, January 10, 2011.

“Rail traffic growth in 2010 is clearly a positive development, and reflects a growing economy as well as solid, dependable service on the part of the railroads,” said AAR senior vice president John T. Gray. “However, this growth is certainly slower than any of us would like, and rail traffic still has a long way to go to full recovery.”

In the final week of 2010, 16 of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. Those carload commodity groups posting double-digit increases included: metallic ores, up 111.7 percent; lumber and wood products, up 35.7 percent; farm products excluding grain, up 32.3 percent; pulp, paper, and allied products, up 19.7 percent; metals and products, up 19 percent; stone, clay and glass products, up 18.3 percent; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 14.4 percent; chemicals, up 12.1 percent; and petroleum products and food and kindred products, both up 10.7 percent. Commodities reporting declines were coke, down 5.4 percent, and coal, down 2 percent.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 2.5 percent compared with 2009. In the West, carload volume was up 7.4 percent compared with the same week in 2009.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 60,077 carloads for the week, up 7 percent from 2009, and 32,775 trailers and containers, up 4.4 percent from 2009. For the full 52 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,789,335 carloads, up 16.7 percent from 2009, and 2,441,518 trailers or containers, up 15.6 percent from 2009.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,512 cars, up 42 percent from the same week in 2009, and 4,669 trailers and containers, up 32.2 percent from 2009. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the full 52 weeks of 2010 was reported as 712,951 carloads, up 18.5 percent from 2009; and 352,578 trailers or containers, up 22.4 percent from 2009.

Combined North American rail volume for the full 52 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 19,322,414 carloads, up 9.4 percent from 2009, and 14,076,432 trailers and containers, up 14.7 percent from 2009.

The AAR has announced several changes to certain carload commodity groups reported in the Weekly Rail Traffic Report that will take effect in Week 1 of 2011. Commodity Group 18, Waste and Scrap Materials, will be split into two groups, Iron and Steel Scrap (Group 18) and Waste and Nonferrous Scrap (Group 19). Commodity Group 19 will be renumbered to Commodity Group 20. Crude Petroleum will be moved from the new Commodity Group 20 to Commodity Group 13, Petroleum Products. Finally, Distiller’s Dried Grains will be moved from Commodity Group 8 to Commodity Group 7, Grain Mill Products. Rail traffic data for 2010 will be restated to maintain consistency for the year-to-year comparison.

For more information, visit www.aar.org.