Rail Freight Traffic Up

WASHINGTON — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was up during the week ending Dec.14, in comparison with the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads reported.

The gains were paced by a 12.3 percent increase in intermodal traffic, with total loadings of 197,477 trailers and containers.  Container traffic was up 16.2 percent from the same week last year, while trailer volume gained 3.4 percent.

Carload freight, which doesn’t include the intermodal data, was up 1.0 percent from last year, totaling 341,028 cars.  Carload volume was up 2.6 percent in the West but down 1.1 percent in the East.  Total volume was estimated at 29.5 billion ton-miles, up 1.0 percent from the 50th week of 2001.

Fourteen out of 19 carload commodity groups registered gains, with double-digit increases reported in loadings of metallic ores, up 42.3 percent; coke, up 28.9 percent; metals and products, up 21.2 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, up 12.3 percent.  Among the five commodities registering declines were crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 15.1 percent; primary forest products, down 10.7 percent; and coal, off 3.8 percent.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 50 weeks of 2002: 16,555,400 carloads, down 0.8 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 9,044,426 trailers and containers, up 4.4 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.431 trillion ton miles, up 0.4 percent from last year’s first 50 weeks.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 90 percent of U.S. carload freight and 97 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 96 percent and 99 percent. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of the nation’s intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

Intermodal freight was up but carload traffic was down on Canadian railroads during the week ended December 14. Intermodal traffic totaled 45,911 trailers and containers, up 25.9 percent from last year. Carload volume of 60,286 cars was down 3.1 percent from the comparable week last year.

Cumulative originations for the first 50 weeks of 2002 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,994,716 carloads, down 2.7 percent from last year, and 1,963,688 trailers and containers, up 11.5 percent from last year.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 50 weeks of 2002 on 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 19,550,116 carloads, down 1.1 percent from last year and 11,008,114 trailers and containers, up 5.6 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported that carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended December 14 totaled 10,342 cars originated or received from connecting lines, down 6.1 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 3,560 trailers or containers, up 10.6 percent from the 50th week of 2001. For the first 50 weeks of 2002, TFM reported cumulative volume of 531,385 cars, up 3.5 percent from last year, and 186,954 trailers or containers, up 10.5 percent.

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