Rail Freight Traffic Strong During Holiday Week

Thanksgiving week was a solid one for railroad freight traffic but overall volumes were still down nearly 4 percent compared with the same 2008 period.

Major U.S. railroads reported originating 246,133 carloads for the week ended Nov. 28, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and down 29.3 percent from the same week in 2007. The comparison week from 2008 included the Thanksgiving Holiday, while the 2007 comparison week did not, according to the report from the Association of American Railroads.

In the Western U.S., carloads were down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 23.9 percent compared with 2007. Carloads in the East were down 4.3 percent compared with 2008, and 37.3 percent compared with the same week in 2007.

Intermodal traffic totaled 165,856 trailers and containers, down 6.4 percent from a year ago and 32.1 percent from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume dropped 0.9 percent and trailer volume dropped 27.2 percent. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume fell 26.2 percent and trailer volume dropped 51.9 percent.

Ten of the 19 carload freight commodity groups in the report reported decreases compared with the same week last year. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 0.9 percent for crushed stone, sand and gravel to 28.3 percent for coke.

Among the nine commodity gainers were nonmetallic minerals (38.1 percent), grain (21.3 percent), farm products not including grain (20.1 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (15 percent), chemicals (13.2 percent), grain mill products (11.5 percent), metals and products (11.2 percent), metallic ores (3.1 percent) and petroleum products (2.2 percent). For more details on cargo trends, please click here to access the AAR report.

 Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Nov. 28, 2009 was estimated at 27.6 billion ton-miles, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year and down 25 percent from 2007.

For the first 47 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,571,696 carloads, down 17.1 percent from 2008 and 18.2 percent from 2007; 8,967,824 trailers or containers, down 15.5 percent from 2008 and 18.3 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.35 trillion ton-miles, down 16.2 percent from 2008 and 16.7 percent from 2007.