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AAR: Rail freight traffic down from a year ago

(The Association of American Railroads issued the following on May 28, 2009.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads during the week ended May 23 remained down in comparison with last year, although it did show an increase from the previous week this year, the Association of American Railroads reported today.

U.S. railroads originated 259,265 cars during the week, down 21.5 percent from the comparison week in 2008, but up 4.9 percent from the previous week this year. In comparison with last year, loadings were down 16.4 percent in the West and 28.0 percent in the East.

All 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year, with declines ranging from 4.8 percent for farm products other than grain to 59.7 percent for metallic ores.

Intermodal volume of 188,885 trailers or containers was off 19.1 percent from last year, with container volume down 14.2 percent and trailer traffic off 37.2 percent. Intermodal volume was up 0.2 percent from the previous week this year.

Total volume was estimated at 27.4 billion ton-miles, off 20.3 percent from 2008, but up 4.6 percent from the previous week this year.

For the first 20 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,295,843 carloads, down 19.3 percent from 2008; 3,720,454 trailers or containers, down 16.8 percent; and total volume of an estimated 562.0 billion ton-miles, down 18.2 percent.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 53,316 cars for the week, down 33.5 percent from last year, and 37,052 trailers or containers, down 18.9 percent. For the first 20 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,193,070 carloads, down 23.4 percent from last year; and 810,785 trailers or containers, down 14.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 13,102 cars, virtually the same as last year, and 5,188 trailers or containers, down 18.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 20 weeks of 2009 was reported as 219,541 carloads, down 12.3 percent from last year; and 95,217 trailers or containers, down 19.8 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 20 weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 6,708,454 carloads, down 19.9 percent from last year, and 4,626,456 trailers and containers, down 16.4 percent from last year.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 89 percent of U.S. carload freight and 98 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 96 percent and 100 percent. The Canadian railroads reporting to the AAR account for 91 percent of Canadian rail traffic. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of U.S. intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

Friday, May 29, 2009

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