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Weekly Carload Volume Reaches Highest Total Since December 2008

April 23, 2010
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) said that signs of recovery in U.S. freight rail traffic continue to gain momentum, with carload volume last week reaching its highest level since the week ended December 6, 2008. U.S. railroads originated 296,599 carloads during the week ended April 17, 2010, up 16.1 percent from the comparable week in 2009. However, volume was still down 11.6 percent from the same week in 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 209,903 trailers and containers, up 14.6 percent from last year but down 6.3 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 16.7 percent while trailer volume gained 4 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was up 1.6 percent while trailer volume fell 35.3 percent.

Carload volume gained 19.6 percent from last year on Eastern railroads and 13.8 percent on Western carriers. Compared with 2008, however, carload volume was down 13.6 percent in the East and 10.2 percent in the West.
 
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by a 177.5 percent jump in loadings of metallic ores. Other notable increases included 68.8 percent for metals, 49 percent for motor vehicles and equipment, 46.4 percent for nonmetallic minerals and 34.5 percent for primary forest products. Grain was up 12.2 percent, and coal gained 9.6 percent. The only commodity registering a decline was pulp, paper and allied products, off 6.7 percent.

For the first 15 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,175,722 carloads, up 4 percent from 2009, but down 14.3 percent from 2008; 3,040,683 trailers or containers, up 9.2 percent from 2009, but down 8.5 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 455.4 billion ton-miles, up 4.9 percent from 2009 but down 11.1 percent from 2008.
 
Canadian railroads reported volume of 74,029 cars for the week, up 24.3 percent from last year, and 47,550 trailers or containers, up 14.8 percent from 2009. For the first 15 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,082,458 carloads, up 17.3 percent from last year, and 660,333 trailers or containers, up 8.6 percent from last year.
 
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 13,624 cars, up 27.8 percent from the same week last year, and 7,140 trailers or containers, up 42.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2010 was reported as 200,756 carloads, up 23.1 percent from last year; and 97,250 trailers or containers, up 39.7 percent.
 
Combined North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 5,458,936 carloads, up 7 percent from last year, and 3,798,266 trailers and containers, up 9.7 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 the AAR web site: www.aar.org.