AAR Reports Recent Rail Traffic Gains Slow In Week Preceding Holiday

WASHINGTON — The Association of American Railroads reported that recent rail traffic gains have slowed in the week preceding the Labor Day Holiday.

For the week ended Sept. 5, 2009, U.S. railroads reported originating 284,715 cars, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloadings were down 7.1 percent in the West and 6.0 percent in the East.

Intermodal traffic of 201,239 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was up 0.2 percent from the same week last year. Container volume fell 6.5 percent and trailer volume dropped 23.9 percent.

Seven of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up the same week from last year, with improvements ranging from 2.3 percent for motor vehicles and equipment to 11.4 percent for chemicals. Of the remaining freight commodity groups, declines ranged from 5.4 percent for crushed sand, stone and gravel to 46.2 percent for metallic ores.

For the first 35 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,285,936 carloads, down 18.4 percent from 2008; 6,555,303 trailers or containers, down 16.7 percent, and total volume of an estimated 988.6 billion ton-miles, down 17.5 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending September 5 was estimated at 30.5 billion ton-miles, off 5.3 percent from the same week last year.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 64,461 cars for the week, down 14.0 percent from last year, and 44,656 trailers or containers, down 4.9 percent. For the first 35 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,103,190 carloads, down 23.1 percent from last year, and 1,416,018 trailers or containers, down 16.1 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 10,867 cars, down 33.6 percent from the same week last year, and 6,676 trailers or containers, off 30.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 35 weeks of 2009 was reported as 397,806 carloads, down 14.7 percent from last year; and 175,944 trailers or containers, down 20.2 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 11,786,932 carloads, down 19.2 percent from last year, and 8,147,265 trailers and containers, down 16.6 percent from last year.