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AAR reports mixed weekly and July monthly rail traffic

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail carloads originated in July 2012 totaled 1,103,733, down 7,787 carloads or 0.7 percent, compared with July  2011. Intermodal volume in July 2012 was 946,071 trailers and containers, up 50,431 units or up 5.6 percent, compared with July 2011. The July 2012 weekly intermodal average of 236,518 trailers and containers is the highest July average in history. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report released online tomorrow. Eight of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains in July 2012 compared with July 2011, including: petroleum and petroleum products, up 13,368 carloads, or 47.2 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 9,317 carloads or 23.3 percent, and food products, up 2,297 carloads or 9.9 percent.  Monthly carloads excluding coal and grain were up 8,018 carloads or 1.4 percent compared with July of last year. Commodity categories with declines in July 2012 were led by coal, down 7,945 carloads, or 1.7 percent compared with July 2011, grain, down 7,860 carloads, or 10 percent and metallic ores, down 6,182 carloads, or 16.2 percent. Class I railroad employment in June 2012 was up 611 employees from May and up 3,819 employees compared with June 2011. Total Class I employment was 163,159, its highest level since October 2008. "Carloads of some of the more economically sensitive commodities, such as lumber and wood, steel, and autos, gave us a mixed message in July.  While lumber related to home construction remained very positive, other manufactured goods either grew more slowly than they have been or actually fell in July,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.  “It remains to be seen if this is just a blip or something more serious.  More positively, intermodal volume remains on track to see a record year in 2012.” AAR today also reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending July 28, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 288,167 carloads, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 250,319 trailers and containers, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 46.8 percent; farm products excluding grain up 14 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 8.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 38.1 percent; iron and steel scrap, down 29.6, and grain, down 7.2 percent. Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was even compared with the same week in 2011. For the first 30 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,428,551 carloads, down 2.6 percent from the same point last year, and 6,995,801 trailers and containers, up 3.6 percent from last year.  Canadian railroads reported 77,093 carloads for the week, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 55,775 trailers and containers, up 8.2 percent compared with 2011. For the first 30 weeks of 2012, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,298,875 carloads, up 3.2 percent from the same point last year, and 1,520,597 trailers and containers, up 7.2 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,983 carloads for the week, up 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,213 trailers and containers, up 20.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 30 weeks of 2012 is 425,148 carloads, down 1.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 281,855 trailers and containers, up 18 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 30 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 11,152,574 carloads, down 1.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,798,253 trailers and containers, up 4.6 percent compared with last year.
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