The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail carloads originated in May 2012 totaled 1,392,352, down 40,405 carloads or 2.8 percent, compared with May 2011. Intermodal volume in May 2012 was 1,178,312 trailers and containers, up 39,696 units or up 3.5 percent, compared with May 2011. The May 2012 weekly intermodal average of 235,662 trailers and containers is the highest May average in history. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators released online tomorrow. Thirteen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains in May 2012 compared with May 2011, including: motor vehicles, up 17,066 cars or 27.7 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 16,460 carloads, or 49.2 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 7,535 carloads, or 8.2 percent; lumber and wood products, up 2,357 carloads, or 16.9 percent, and primary metal products, up 2,260 carloads, or 4.3 percent. Commodities with carload declines in May were led by coal, down 74,469
Canadian railroads reported 69,408 carloads for the week, down 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 44,633 trailers and containers, down 6.6 percent compared with 2011. For the first 22 weeks of 2012, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,683,062 carloads, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year, and 1,090,036 trailers and containers, up 6.4 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,795 carloads for the week, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,131 trailers and containers, up 13.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2012 is 303,001 carloads, down 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 199,309 trailers and containers, up 20.5 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 8,170,610 carloads, down 1.8 percent compared with the same point last year, and 6,343,053 trailers and containers, up 4 percent compared with last year. “The economy continues to perplex, with some indicators seeming to signal a slowdown and some hinting at steady, albeit unspectacular, progress,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “U.S. rail traffic is in the latter category. Intermodal volume grew in May for the 30th consecutive month, and carload traffic excluding coal and grain, which by and large are not economically-sensitive commodities, continues to grow at a reasonably good pace.”