Freight rail traffic showed improvement in the week ending Dec. 5, 2009, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said. U.S. railroads reported originating 284,177 carloads, down 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and down 13.3 percent from the same week in 2007. The level remained below the high for the year, however, which was seen in the week ending Nov. 21, when carloads totaled 287,087.
In the Western United States, carloads were down 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10.7 percent compared with 2007. In the East, carloads were down 4.1 percent compared with 2008, and 17.1 percent compared with the same week in 2007.
Intermodal traffic totaled 207,242 trailers and containers, down 4.2 percent from a year ago and 13.6 percent from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 2 percent and trailer volume dropped 25.8 percent. In the week ending Nov. 21, intermodal traffic had reached 213,382 trailers and containers.
Although 10 of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down compared with the same week last year, increases were seen in nonmetallic minerals (25 percent), metals and products (17.1 percent), grain (14.1 percent), chemicals (13.9 percent), farm products not including grain (13.7 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (8.9 percent), grain mill products (8 percent), metallic ores (1.3 percent) and waste and scrap metal (0.7 percent). Declines in commodity groups ranged from 0.6 percent for food and kindred products to 21 percent for crushed stone, sand and gravel.
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Dec. 5, 2009 was estimated at 31.8 billion ton-miles, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year and down 7.6 percent from 2007.
For the first 48 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,855,873 carloads, down 16.9 percent from 2008 and 18.1 percent from 2007; 9,175,066 trailers or containers, down 15.3 percent from 2008 and 18.2 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.38 trillion ton-miles, down 15.9 percent from 2008 and 16.5 percent from 2007.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,415,640 carloads, down 17.2 percent from last year, and 11,413,267 trailers and containers, down 15.2 percent from last year.
See the AAR's weekly rail traffic charts for more details.