Rail Freight Traffic Down During First Week of March

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

U.S. carload freight totaled 275,105 cars, down 15.0 percent from the comparison week in 2008, with loadings down 11.9 percent in the West and 19.5 percent in the East.

Intermodal volume of 180,047 trailers or containers was off 12.7 percent from last year, with container volume falling 6.0 percent and trailer volume dropping 34.0 percent.

Total volume was estimated at 29.2 billion ton-miles, off 13.9 percent from 2008.

All nineteen carload commodity groups were off last week in comparison with last year. Coal was off 0.8 percent with declines in other commodities ranging from 5.5 percent (grain mill products) to 57.3 percent (metals).

For the first nine weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,451,688 carloads, down 15.8 percent from 2008; 1,694,505 trailers or containers, down 15.5 percent; and total volume of an estimated 260.3 billion ton-miles, down 14.6 percent.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 61,186 cars for the week, down 18.3 percent from last year, and 37,332 trailers or containers, down 12.1 percent. For the first nine weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 561,382 carloads, down 18.4 percent from last year; and 369,960 trailers or containers, down 11.7 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,430 cars, down 4.8 percent from last year’s ninth week, and 4,209 trailers or containers, off 27.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first nine weeks of 2009 was reported as 99,393 carloads, down 12.4 percent from last year; and 42,328 trailers or containers, down 21.4 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,112,463 carloads, down 16.1 percent from last year, and 2,106,793 trailers and containers, down 15.0 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.