The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail carloads originated in June 2012 totaled 1,140,271, down 1.3 percent compared with June 2011. Intermodal volume in June 2012 totaled 996,022 containers and trailers, up 49,168 units or 5.2 percent compared with June 2011. The June 2012 average weekly intermodal volume of 249,006 units is the highest average for any June on record and the third highest for any month, behind August and October 2006. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report released online tomorrow. Nine of the 20 commodity groups saw carload gains in June 2012 compared with June 2011, including: petroleum and petroleum products, up 14,177 carloads, or 51 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 12,957 carloads, or 24.5 percent; food products, up 1,549 carloads, or 6.2 percent; and lumber and wood products, up 1,336 carloads, or 11.4 percent. Commodities with carload declines in June 2012 were led by coal, down 30,152 carloads,
or 6.2 percent; grain, down 9,159 carloads, or 10.6 percent; metallic ores, down 2,804 carloads, or 8 percent; and iron and steel scrap, down 1,951 carloads, or 10.2 percent. Carloads excluding coal were up 14,979 carloads or 2.2 percent in June 2012 over June 2011. Carloads excluding coal and grain were up 24,138 carloads or 4.2 percent in June 2012 over June 2011. Class I railroad employment in May 2012 fell to 161,191 employees, down 685 employees from April 2012. Total Class I rail employment in May 2012 was 3,669 employees higher, or 2.3 percent, compared with May 2011. As of July 1, 2012, 317,681 freight cars were in storage, an increase of 4,743 from June 1, 2012, and equal to 20.7% of the North American fleet. Total cars in storage have increased for nine straight months, due largely to reduced demand for coal and grain rail cars. “U.S. intermodal originations in 2012 through June are slightly ahead of 2006’s record pace, setting up the very real possibility that 2012 will be the highest-volume intermodal year ever for U.S. railroads,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “The recovery in intermodal traffic since the recession has been remarkable and is due in large part to railroads’ huge investments in their intermodal business that have improved rail intermodal’s reliability and efficiency.” AAR today also announced mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending June 30, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 278,634 carloads, down 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 253,497 trailers and containers, up 7 percent compared with the same week last year and the fifth highest-volume intermodal week ever for U.S. railroads. Nine of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 51.8 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 18.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 11.9 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included grain, down 16.6 percent, and farm products excluding grain, down 16.8 percent. Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 10 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2011. For the first 26 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,324,818 carloads, down 2.9 percent from the same point last year, and 6,049,730 trailers and containers, up 3.3 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 77,899 carloads for the week, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,604 trailers and containers, up 14.5 percent compared with 2011 and the third-highest intermodal week ever for Canadian railroads. For the first 26 weeks of 2012, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,994,697 carloads, up 3.4 percent from the same point last year, and 1,308,833 trailers and containers, up 7.4 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,163 carloads for the week, up 7.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,414 trailers and containers, up 13.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2012 is 364,069 carloads, down 2.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 240,379 trailers and containers, up 19.1 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 9,683,584 carloads, down 1.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 7,598,942 trailers and containers, up 4.4 percent compared with last year.