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U.S. Freight Railroads Continue to See Traffic Gains

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that for the week ended May 8, 2010, U.S. freight railroads continued to experience traffic gains for the 11th consecutive week. U.S. railroads originated 288,905 carloads last week, up 14.7 percent from the comparable week in 2009. However, carloads were still down 13.9 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 208,809 trailers and containers, up 14 percent from last year but down 9.2 percent from 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 15.9 percent while trailer volume rose 4.3 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume was down 2.2 percent while trailer volume fell 34.7 percent.

Total volume was estimated at 32.2 billion ton-miles, up 16.2 percent from last year but down 8.8 percent from 2008. 

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 16.3 percent from last year, but down 20.1 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 13.7 percent from last year but down 9.1 percent from two years ago.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by a 99.7 percent jump in metals and a 70.2 percent gain in metallic ores. Loadings of motor vehicles and equipment were up 50.8 percent; waste and scrap was up 31.6 percent; and lumber and wood products gained 23.4 percent. Chemicals rose 14.6 percent, grain was up 8.6 percent and coal was up 8.3 percent from last year. The only commodity not to increase was grain mill products, down 4.8 percent.
For the first 18 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,058,563 carloads, up 5.8 percent from 2009, but down 13.9 percent from 2008; 3,674,852 trailers or containers, up 10 percent from 2009, but down 8.2 percent from 2008, and total volume of an estimated 553.6 billion ton-miles, up 6.7 percent from 2009 but down 10.4 percent from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 74,945 cars for the week, up 38 percent from last year, and 45,839 trailers or containers, up 9.9 percent from 2009. For the first 18 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,307,737 carloads, up 19.3 percent from last year, and 799,272 trailers or containers, up 9.1 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 13,416 cars, up 37.9 percent from the same week last year, and 5,967 trailers or containers, up 36 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2010 was reported as 240,044 carloads, up 23.6 percent from last year; and 114,888 trailers or containers, up 35.5 percent.
The AAR is the world's leading railroad policy, research, and technology organization. AAR members include the major freight railroads, or Class I railroads, of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. For more information, visit www.aar.org.

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