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AAR reports mixed rail traffic for March, declines for week ending March 30

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that U.S. monthly rail traffic showed mixed results in March 2013, while both carloads and intermodal traffic declined for the week ending March 30, 2013. Intermodal traffic in March 2013 totaled 933,208 containers and trailers, up 0.5 percent (4,859 units) compared with March 2012. That percentage increase represents the smallest year-over-year monthly gain for intermodal since August 2011. Carloads originated in March 2013 totaled 1,117,427, down 0.5 percent (5,969 carloads) compared with the same month last year. While it was a decline, March had the lowest year-over-year monthly dip in carloads since January of 2012. Carloads excluding coal and grain were up 3.4 percent (19,965 carloads) in March 2013 over March 2012. Seven of the 20 major commodity categories tracked on a monthly basis by AAR saw year-over-year increases in March 2013 over March 2012. Commodities with the biggest carload increases in March included petroleum and petroleum products, up 54.3 percent or 19,295 carloads; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 11.9 percent or 8,380 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 6.1 percent or 4,127 carloads; and coke, up 11.4 percent or 1,550 carloads. Commodities with carload declines last month included grain, down 20.1 percent or 16,971 carloads; coal, down 2 percent or 8,963 carloads; metallic ores, down 13.2 percent or 2,908 carloads; and chemicals, down 1.3 percent or 1,581 carloads. “U.S. rail traffic continues to mirror the overall economy:  not great, not terrible, anticipating a better future,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.  “Petroleum and petroleum products continues to lead traffic gains, while coal and grain have seen better days.  Intermodal volume in March was up just 0.5 percent over last year, but it was still the highest-volume March in history and built on even stronger gains earlier in the quarter.”

AAR also reported declines in rail traffic for the week ending March 30, 2013.  U.S. railroads originated 281,367 carloads last week, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 233,587 units, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year.  Total U.S. traffic for the week ending March 30 was 514,954 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent over the same week last year. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, led by petroleum products, up 55.6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic were led by grain, down 27.4 percent. For the first 13 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,570,874 carloads, down 3 percent from the same point last year, and 3,084,916 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2013 was 6,655,790 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7 percent from last year.

Canadian railroads reported 80,227 carloads for the week, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 47,127 intermodal units, down 10.5 percent compared with 2012. For the first 13 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,007,936 carloads, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year, and 660,535 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 13,948 carloads for the week, down 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,839 intermodal units, down 13.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2013 is 192,104 carloads, up 8.4 percent from the same point last year, and 118,373 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 4,770,914 carloads, down 1.5 percent compared with the

 
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