Railroads Enjoy Pre-Holiday Traffic Uptick

Just like Amtrak, the airlines and bus lines, freight railroads experienced increased business right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads hit its highest level this year during the week ended November 21, according to a report from the Association of American Railroads. Major U.S. railroads reported originating 287,087 carloads for the week, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and down .7 percent from the same week in 2007. That volume, however, was a 2.1-percent increase from the previous week this year.

Carloads were down 8.8 percent in the West compared with the same week last year, and 4.8 percent compared with 2007. In the East, carloads were down 3.8 percent compared with 2008, but up 6 percent compared with the same week in 2007.

Intermodal traffic totaled 213,382 trailers and containers, down 3.1 percent from a year ago but up 11.5 percent from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 3.4 percent and trailer volume dropped 26.8 percent.

While 13 of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down compared with the same week last year, increases were seen in nonmetallic minerals (26.5 percent), grain (8.1 percent), chemicals (8.1 percent), waste and scrap metal (6.5 percent), grain mill products (6.4 percent) and food and kindred products (.4 percent). Declines in commodity groups ranged from .3 percent for petroleum products to 22.1 percent for crushed stone, sand and gravel.

For more details, click here to access the AAR's weekly traffic report.

Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Nov. 21, 2009 was estimated at 32.1 billion ton-miles, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week last year but up 4.9 percent from 2007.

For the first 46 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,325,563 carloads, down 17.3 percent from 2008 and 18 percent from 2007; 8,801,968 trailers or containers, down 15.6 percent from 2008 and 17.9 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.32 trillion ton-miles, down 16.4 percent from 2008 and 16.5 percent from 2007.