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AAR reports mixed results for August rail traffic

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed results for August rail traffic compared with the same month last year, with U.S. railroads originating 1,482,570 carloads, down 0.3 percent, and 1,179,838 trailers and containers, up 0.4 percent. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be made available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report to be released tomorrow.

In August 2011, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories saw increases compared with August 2010.  The largest gains were in metallic ores, up 6,665 carloads or 16.6 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 5,577 carloads or 8.8 percent; and primary metal products (mainly steel), up 5,238 carloads or 11.1 percent.

Compared to August 2010, grain carloads in August 2011 were down 18,423 or 17.1 percent, and coal carloads were down 11,747 or 1.7 percent. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads in August 2011 were up 26,362 carloads or 3.7 percent over August 2010.

As of September 1, 2011, 271,404 freight cars, or 17.8 percent of the North American fleet, were in storage. This is 5,539 fewer cars than on August 1. 

In addition to monthly traffic, today AAR also reported a dip in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 303,260 carloads for the week ending September 3, 2011, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 233,941 trailers and containers, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year. 

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010, including: metallic ores, up 24.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 23.2 percent. Groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: farm products excluding grain, down 23.9 percent, and grain, down 21.4 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 0.2 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

For the first 35 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,133,479 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 7,931,620 trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent from last year.

Canadian railroads reported 79,674 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 52,868 trailers and containers, up 3.8 percent compared with 2010. For the first 35 weeks of 2011, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,606,122 carloads, up 2.6 percent from the same point last year, and 1,669,014 trailers and containers, up 1.9 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 14,386 carloads for the week, up 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,971 trailers and containers, up 31.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 35 weeks of 2011 was 502,576 carloads, up 4.9 percent compared with the same point last year, and 285,582 trailers and containers, up 24.8 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 13,242,177 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 9,886,216 trailers and containers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year.
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