AAR Reports Slight Improvement in U.S. Carloadings

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) on Jan. 28 said that freight traffic is showing slight improvement over 2009 levels but remains down sharply when compared to 2008. For the week ending Jan. 23, 2010, U.S. railroads originated 277,420 carloads, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week in 2009 and down 11.1 percent from the same week in 2008.

In the Western United States, carloads were down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9.4 percent compared with 2008. In the East, carloads were up 10.7 percent compared with 2009, and down 13.6 percent compared with the same week in 2008.

Intermodal traffic totaled 200,807 trailers and containers, up 2.9 percent from a year ago, but down 4.4 percent from 2008. Container volume showed stronger growth, increasing 6 percent over 2009 and 3.5 percent over 2008. Trailer volume, however, fell 11.1 percent from the 2009 level and dropped 32.3 percent compared with the same week in 2008.

Thirteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up in comparison with the same week last year, and 10 of those posted double digit increases. Increases in commodity groups ranged from 5.5 percent for grain to 103.8 percent for nonmetallic minerals. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 25.7 percent for the catch-all category labeled "all other carloads" to 3.1 percent for coal.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 73,354 cars for the week, up 13.5 percent from last year, and 44,295 trailers or containers, up 7.4 percent from 2009. For the first 3 weeks of 2010, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 214,081 carloads, up 19.1 percent from last year, and 131,596 trailers or containers, up 4.4 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 14,867 cars, up 29.8 percent from the same week last year, and 6,960 trailers or containers, up 41.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 3 weeks of 2010 was reported as 40,200 carloads, up 27.4 percent from last year; and 19,620 trailers or containers, up 42.5 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 3 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 1,032,527 carloads, up 1.7 percent from last year, and 750,539 trailers and containers, up 2.3 percent from last year.

For further details, consult the AAR's weekly rail traffic charts.