AAR: Another Down Week for Rail Freight Traffic

WASHINGTON — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads during the week ended March 14 remained down in comparison with a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported.

U.S railroads reported originating 279,287 cars, up 1.5 percent from the previous week this year but down 15.0 percent from the comparison week in 2008, with loadings down 14.2 percent in the West and 16.1 percent in the East.

Intermodal volume of 176,840 trailers or containers was off 18.3 percent from last year, with container volume falling 13.4 percent and trailer volume dropping 34.5 percent.

Total volume was estimated at 29.6 billion ton-miles, off 14.0 percent from 2008.

Eighteen of nineteen carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, with the miscellaneous category labeled “all other carloads” resisting the trend and registering a 5.5 percent gain. Declines ranged from 0.8 percent for coal to 55.5 percent for metals. Ten carload groups were up from the previous week this year.

For the first ten weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,730,975 carloads, down 15.7 percent from 2008; 1,871,345 trailers or containers, down 15.8 percent; and total volume of an estimated 289.9 billion ton-miles, down 14.5 percent.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 59,612 cars for the week, down 21.4 percent from last year, and 39,073 trailers or containers, down 11.3 percent. For the first ten weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 620,994 carloads, down 18.7 percent from last year; and 409,033 trailers or containers, down 11.6 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 12,796 cars, up 15.2 percent from last year’s tenth week, and 4,700 trailers or containers, off 4.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first ten weeks of 2009 was reported as 112,189 carloads, down 10.0 percent from last year; and 47,028 trailers or containers, down 19.9 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first ten weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,464,158 carloads, down 16.1 percent from last year, and 2,327,406 trailers and containers, down 15.2 percent from last year.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 89 percent of U.S. carload freight and 98 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 96 percent and 100 percent. The Canadian railroads reporting to the AAR account for 91 percent of Canadian rail traffic. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of U.S. intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.