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AAR reports gains for November rail traffic
Weekly rail traffic continues to make gains

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported gains in November 2011 rail traffic compared with the same month last year, with U.S. railroads originating 1,476,635 carloads, up 2.3 percent, and 1,162,249 trailers and containers, up 3.8 percent. November 2011 saw the largest year-over-year percentage increase in carload traffic since March 2011. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be made available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report to be released tomorrow.

In November 2011, 13 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with November 2010.  The largest gains were: motor vehicles and parts, up 11,069 carloads or 18.7 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 9,740 carloads or 12 percent; and coal, up 8,455 carloads or 1.3 percent. On a percentage basis, the biggest increase in November was in carloads of petroleum and petroleum products, up 6,058 carloads or 18.8 percent. Commodity groups seeing a decline in November included grain, down 15,037 carloads or 12.4 percent; chemicals, down 1,599 carloads or 1.1 percent; and food products, down 1,498 carloads or 4.5 percent. 

“In November, U.S. rail carload traffic saw its highest year-over-year percentage increase in eight months, and year-over-year intermodal traffic grew for the 24th straight month,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray.  “There are still clearly a lot of things that aren’t right with the economy, but we hope this improvement in rail traffic is a sign that the pace of economic growth is increasing.” 

Total Class I rail employment in October 2011 was up 3.9 percent, or 5,966 employees, compared with October 2010. As of December 1, 2011, 263,912 freight cars were in storage, a 17 percent decrease since December 1, 2010 equal to 17.3 percent of the North American fleet. Cars in storage rose by 2,217 from November 1, 2011 to December 1, 2011.

Today, AAR also reported gains in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 311,356 carloads for the week ending Dec. 3, 2011, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 243,997 trailers and containers, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including:  Crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 20.5 percent; lumber and wood products, up 19.9 percent, and metal products, up 17.5 percent. The groups showing a significant decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 16 percent; farm products, excluding grain, down 15.9 percent, and metallic ores, down 15.6 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 3.1 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

For the first 48 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,021,412 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year, and 11,019,041 trailers and containers, up 5.1 percent from last year.

Canadian railroads reported 79,162 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 50,902 trailers and containers, up 7.5 percent compared with 2010. For the first 48 weeks of 2011, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,629,373 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,324,195 trailers and containers, up 1.8 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 13,989 carloads for the week, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,081 trailers and containers, up 27.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2011 was 685,638 carloads, up 3.9 percent compared with the same point last year, and 401,176 trailers and containers, up 22.1 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 18,336,423 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,744,412 trailers and containers, up 4.9 percent compared with last year.

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