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AAR reports mixed rail traffic for April, and week ending April 27

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that U.S. monthly rail traffic showed mixed results in April 2013, and traffic was also mixed for the week ending April 27, 2013. Intermodal traffic in April 2013 totaled 962,019 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent (15,053 units) compared with April 2012. April’s weekly average of trailers and containers, 240,505, was the highest for any April in history. Carloads originated in April 2013 totaled 1,108,722, down 0.4 percent (4,640 carloads) compared with the same month last year. Nine of the 20 major commodity categories tracked on a monthly basis by AAR saw year-over-year increases in April 2013 over April 2012. Commodities with the biggest carload increases in April included petroleum and petroleum products, up 46.4 percent or 17,524 carloads; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 11.5 percent or 8,959 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.9 percent or 3,868 carloads; and coke, up 10.1 percent or 1,359 carloads. Commodities with carload declines last month included grain, down 17.1 percent or 13,511 carloads; metallic ores, down 26.5 percent or 8,605 carloads; primary metal products, down 8.1 percent or 3,583 carloads; and coal, down 0.7 percent or 3,086 carloads. April’s weekly average for grain carloads, 16,345, was the lowest weekly average for grain for any month on record (AAR data go back to 1988). The weekly average for coal carloads, 106,679, was the lowest weekly average for coal for any month since July 1993. Carloads excluding coal and grain were up 2 percent (11,957 carloads) in April 2013 over April 2012.

Canadian railroads (including their U.S. operations) originated 329,208 carloads in April 2013, an average of 82,302 carloads per week.  That is up 2.9 percent, or 9,306 carloads, over April 2012 and is the second-highest weekly carload average for any month since 1996 for Canadian railroads. Canadian intermodal volume in April 2013 was up 2.1 percent, or 4,459 containers and trailers, over April 2012 to 215,607 units.  The weekly average of 53,902 units in April 2013 was the highest for any April in history and the third-highest for any month in history for Canadian railroads. “Coal and grain carloads remain depressed, but by and large rail traffic in April was consistent with an economy that’s continuing to grow, albeit slowly,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.  “There’s nothing in the traffic data to indicate that a sharp economic slowdown is imminent.  On the other hand, there’s nothing to indicate that a dramatic uptick in economic growth is imminent either.” 

AAR also reported mixed rail traffic for the week ending April 27, 2013.  U.S. railroads originated 275,638 carloads last week, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 247,569 units, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year.  Total U.S. traffic for the week ending April 27 was 523,207 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent over the same week last year. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, led by petroleum products, up 42.2 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included grain, down 20.4 percent, and metallic ores and metals, down 11 percent. For the first 17 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,679,596 carloads, down 2.4 percent from the same point last year, and 4,046,935 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2013 was 8,726,531 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 81,657 carloads for the week, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,221 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with 2012. For the first 17 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,337,144 carloads, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year, and 876,142 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 15,520 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,937 intermodal units, down 11.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2013 is 252,966 carloads, up 8.8 percent from the same point last year, and 155,096 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 6,269,706 carloads, down 1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 5,078,173 trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent compared with last year.

 
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