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AAR Reports Sharp Traffic Gains on U.S. Railroads

The Association of American Railroads is reporting that U.S. railroads saw sharp gains in traffic for the week ending April 3, 2010, compared with levels from one year ago. U.S. railroads originated 290,217 carloads during the week, up 10.7 percent from the comparable week in 2009. This was the sixth consecutive week carload volume has topped year-over-year levels compared with 2009, while traffic was still down 11.8 percent compared with 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. Good Friday, which is observed as a holiday on many railroads, occurred during the 2010 week but not in the comparison weeks from 2009 and 2008.
Intermodal traffic totaled 196,257 trailers and containers, up 6.2 percent from last year but down 9.4 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 7.8 percent and trailer volume dipped 1.5 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was down 1.9 percent while trailer volume fell 35 percent. This was the twelfth straight week intermodal volume was above 2009 levels.
Total volume for the week was estimated at 31.3 billion ton-miles, up 11 percent from last year, but down 9.3 percent from 2008.

In the Western U.S., carloads were up 12.7 percent compared with the same week last year, but off 9.2 percent compared with 2008. In the Eastern U.S., carloads were up 7.8 percent compared with 2009, but down 15.3 percent compared with 2008.
Seventeen of 19 carload commodity groups showed gains from a year ago, with the largest coming from products associated with metals: metallic ores, up 104.2 percent; metals, up 84.1 percent; scrap, up 39.8 percent; and coke, up 30.3 percent. Other notable increases included motor vehicles and equipment, 21.3 percent; grain, 18 percent; primary forest products, 34.8 percent; lumber, 21.6 percent; and chemicals, 11.5 percent. Loadings of pulp, paper, and allied products were off 5.1 percent.
For the first 13 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,590,628 carloads, up 2.2 percent from 2009, but down 14.7 percent from 2008; 2,627,231 trailers or containers, up 8.4 percent from 2009, but down 8.5 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 390.1 billion ton-miles, up 3.1 percent from 2009 but down 11.8 percent from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 70,786 cars for the week, up 14.8 percent from last year, and 42,025 trailers or containers, up 6.1 percent from 2009. For the first 13 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 933,743 carloads, up 15.9 percent from last year, and 568,737 trailers or containers, up 7.4 percent from last year. Carload volume on Canadian railroads has been ahead of year ago levels every one of the first 13 weeks this year.
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,267 cars, up 4.3 percent from the same week last year, and 5,069 trailers or containers, up 0.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2010 was reported as 172,819 carloads, up 20 percent from last year; and 83,544 trailers or containers, up 37.3 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 4,697,190 carloads, up 5.2 percent from last year, and 3,279,512 trailers and containers, up 8.8 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.

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