AAR: Rail Freight Traffic Down in June

WASHINGTON — The Association of American Railroads reported that U.S. railroads originated 1,039,889 carloads of freight in June 2009, down 19.7 percent with 255,668 fewer carloads, compared with June 2008.

U.S. intermodal rail traffic – comprising trailers and containers on flat cars that are not included in carload figures – totaled 755,000 units in June 2009, down 18.2 percent compared with the same period last year with 168,031 fewer trailers and containers, the association said.

For the first six months of 2009, total U.S. rail carloadings were down 19.5 percent (1,594,411 carloads) to 6,579,294 carloads, while intermodal traffic was down 17.0 percent (950,147 units) to 4,647,068 trailers and containers.

Of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 18 saw carload declines in June. The catch-all “all other” category was up slightly in June.

In June, the biggest carload declines were coal (down 7.9 percent, or 42,762 carloads); motor vehicles and equipment (down 50.5 percent, or 36,598 carloads); metals and metal products (down 59.8 percent, or 32,253 carloads); and crushed stone and gravel (down 25.2 percent, or 21,840 carloads).

“Whenever Americans grow something, eat something, mine something, make something, turn on a light, or get dressed, freight railroads are probably involved somewhere along the line,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Unfortunately, right now there’s not enough mining , manufacturing and buying going on. So railroads, like most other business sectors, are suffering because of it.”

For the second quarter of 2009, total U.S. rail carloadings were down 22.4 percent (958,324 carloads). Carloads of coal in the second quarter were down 12.5 percent (228,334 carloads) to 1,599,307 carloads. In percentage terms, other commodities fared much worse in the second quarter, including motor vehicles and equipment (down 49.4 percent, or 112,609 carloads), metals and metal products (down 62.4 percent, or 111,653 carloads), and grain (down 25.7 percent, or 77,773 carloads).

Canadian rail carload traffic in June 2009 was down 25.7 percent (80,502 carloads) to 232,156 carloads. Canadian intermodal traffic in June 2009 was down 19.2 percent (37,105 units) from June 2008 to 156,441 trailers and containers.

For the second quarter of 2009, Canadian rail carloadings were down 27.9 percent (286,089 carloads) to 740,635 carloads; Canadian intermodal traffic for the quarter was down 18.5 percent (116,795 units) to 515,305 trailers and containers.

For the first six months of 2009, Canadian rail carloadings were down 24.1 percent (469,236 carloads) to 1,479,016 carloads; Canadian intermodal traffic for the first half of 2009 was down 15.5 percent (184,600 units) to 1,005,715 trailers and containers.