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AAR: 1Q 2014 crude oil carloads increased over 4Q 2013; Weekly rail traffic up again

(Source: Association of American Railroads press release, June 5, 2014)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reports U.S. Class I railroads originated 110,164 carloads of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, 1.4 percent more than in the fourth quarter of 2013 and, by 1,559 carloads, the most ever in any quarter. In the first quarter of 2014, crude oil accounted for 1.6 percent of total originated carloads for U.S. rail traffic.

AAR also reported increased U.S. rail traffic for May 2014, with both carload and intermodal volumes increasing compared with May 2013. Intermodal traffic in May totaled 1,045,880 containers and trailers, up 8 percent (77,526 units) compared with May 2013, and the 54th-consecutive year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal volume. The weekly average of 261,470 intermodal units on U.S. railroads in May 2014 was the third-highest average for any month in history.

Meanwhile, U.S. carload originations totaled 1,186,314 in May 2014, up 6.1 percent (68,301 carloads) over May 2013. Total carloads averaged 296,579 per week in May, the highest weekly average for May since 2008 and the highest weekly average for any month since October 2011.

Seventeen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in May. Commodities with the biggest carload increases included grain, up 18,612 carloads, or 29.7 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 12,256 carloads, or 14.6 percent; and coal, up 12,196 carloads, or 2.8 percent. May marked the seventh straight double-digit year-over-year gain for grain. Railroads have not had a month with 17 of 20 commodity categories increased since the spring of 2010, when the country was just beginning to rebound from the most severe stages of the recession.

Commodity categories with carload declines last month included food products, down 948 carloads, or 3.7 percent; coke, down 666 carloads, or 4.3 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, down 457 carloads, or 2.1 percent.

Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 37,493 carloads, or 6 percent in May, the biggest such percentage increase since December 2012.

“If you’re looking for a sign that the economy is shaking off its first quarter lethargy, rail traffic in May could be that sign,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Crushed stone, steel, motor vehicles, lumber, chemicals— the list of commodities showing carload gains in May goes on and on. And intermodal continues to surge. All in all, there’s very little to dislike about May’s rail traffic figures. We hope it really is a sign that the economy is beginning a period of solid growth.”

AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending May 31, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 289,633 carloads last week, up 7.6 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 242,092 units, up 9.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 531,725 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.3 percent compared with the same week last year.

All 10 of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain, with 19,706 carloads, up 27.4 percent; forest products, with 11,829 carloads, up 13.6 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, with 16,304 carloads, up 12.2 percent.

For the first 22 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,270,639 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 5,565,055 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2014 was 11,835,694 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 88,441 carloads for the week, up 17.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 59,770 intermodal units, up 11 percent compared with 2013. For the first 22 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,693,064 carloads, down 2 percent from the same point last year, and 1,209,207 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported 16,410 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,317 intermodal units, up 10.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2014 is 336,465 carloads, up 2 percent from the same point last year, and 215,493 intermodal units, up 3.1 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 8,300,168 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 6,989,755 trailers and containers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year.

Friday, June 06, 2014

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