Intermodal Sets Annual Record on U.S. Railroads

WASHINGTON – For the eighth time in the past ten years intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads has set an annual record, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Intermodal volume for 2003 reached 9,399,690 trailers or containers during the week ended Dec. 6, 2003, breaking the annual record of 9,349,630, which was set last year.  With three weeks left in 2003, U.S. intermodal volume is expected to exceed 9.8 million units for the year.

For just the week ended Dec. 6, intermodal traffic totaled 202,690 trailers or containers, up 7.0 percent from the comparable week last year. Carload freight, which doesn’t include the intermodal data, totaled 347,735 cars, up 5.0 percent from last year, with volume up 9.3 percent in the East and 1.8 percent in the West.

This is the highest carload freight volume for any week this year. Total volume for the week was estimated at 31.5 billion ton-miles, up 7.1 percent from last year’s 49th week.

Fifteen of nineteen commodities registered gains from last year, with coke up 45.2 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand up 20.4 percent; waste and scrap materials up 18.5 percent; and grain up 18.4 percent.  Loadings of metallic ores were off 19.9 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 49 weeks of 2003: 16,014,122 carloads, up 0.1 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 9,399,690 trailers and containers, up 6.7 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.42 trillion ton-miles, up 1.4 percent from last year’s first 49 weeks.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 88 percent of U.S. carload freight and 95
percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are
included, the figures increase to 95 percent and 100 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.

Canadian railroads also reported an increase in carload freight but a small decline in intermodal during the week ended Dec. 6. Carload volume increased 71,356 cars, or 14.3 percent, from last year. Intermodal traffic of 42,337 trailers and containers was down 0.6 percent from last year.

Cumulative originations for the first 49 weeks of 2003 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,879,836 carloads, up 0.2 percent from last year, and 1,925,909 trailers and containers, up 6.5 percent from last year.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 49 weeks of 2003 on 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 19,102,709 carloads, up 0.2 percent from last year and 11,453,606 trailers and containers, up 6.5 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported that carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended December 6 totaled 7,204 cars originated, down 23.8 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 3,164 trailers or containers, down 15.3 percent from the 49th week of 2001. For the first 49 weeks of 2003 TFM reported cumulative volume of 411,564 cars, down 3.0 percent from last year, and 169,743 trailers or containers, up 11.7 percent.

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