The Association of American Railroads has reported that freight rail traffic dropped from already low levels in the week ending Dec. 12, 2009. U.S. railroads reported originating 261,933 carloads, down 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and down 18.5 percent from the same week in 2007. The volume marked a decline from the post-Thanksgiving surge seen the week before, when the railroads originated 284,177 carloads.
In the Western U.S., carloads were down 13.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16.4 percent compared with 2007. In the East, carloads were down 5.4 percent compared with 2008, and 21.4 percent compared with the same week in 2007.
Intermodal traffic totaled 204,950 trailers and containers, down 3 percent from a year ago and 14.3 percent from 2007. This was down from the previous week's total of 207,242 containers and trailers, too. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 3.6 percent and trailer volume dropped 24.5 percent.
More of the carload commodity groups (12 of 19) were down from the previous year's totals as well. Declines ranged from 0.7 percent for farm products excluding grain to 24.9 percent for crushed stone, sand and gravel. Some increases were seen, however, in grain mill products (16.1 percent), chemicals (14.8 percent), metallic ores (14.7 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (11.2 percent), grain (8.1 percent), waste and scrap metal (6 percent) and nonmetallic minerals (2.2 percent).
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Dec. 12, 2009 was estimated at 29.3 billion ton-miles, down 9.8 percent compared with the same week last year and down 13.3 percent from 2007.
For the first 49 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,117,561 carloads, down 16.8 percent from 2008 and 18.1 percent from 2007; 9,380,016 trailers or containers, down 15 percent from 2008 and 18.1 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.41 trillion ton-miles, down 15.8 percent from 2008 and 16.4 percent from 2007.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 49 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,756,805 carloads, down 17 percent from last year, and 11,663,426 trailers and containers, down 15 percent from last year.
See the AAR's weekly rail traffic charts for more details.