US railroads originated 1,443,609 carloads in October, up 1.5% year-over-year, the highest yearly percentage total carload increase in 22 months; weekly average of 263,520 intermodal units was highest for any month in history: AAR

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

Nov 8, 2013 – Association of American Railroads (AAR)

WASHINGTON , November 8, 2013 (press release) – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for October 2013. Intermodal traffic in October totaled 1,317,601 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent (84,120 units) compared with October 2012. The weekly average of 263,520 intermodal units in October 2013 was the highest weekly average for any month in history. Carloads originated in October totaled 1,443,609, up 1.5 percent or 21,059 carloads compared with the same month last year. This represents the highest year-over-year percentage total carload increase in the last 22 months, although rail traffic in late October 2012 was impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Fifteen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in October 2013 compared with October 2012. Commodities with the largest monthly carload increases included grain, up 9,450 carloads or 9.3 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 8,426 carloads or 14.2 percent, and crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 7,664 carloads or 7.2 percent. Commodity categories with carload declines last month included coal, down 30,428 carloads or 5.4 percent compared with October 2012, and farm products excluding grain, down 3,738 carloads, or 46.2 percent.

Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads in October 2013 were up 5.6 percent, or 42,037 carloads.

“There’s been some concern lately that the recovery may be running out of steam. Rail traffic data for October doesn’t seem to support that,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “A number of economically sensitive commodities, like lumber, autos, and chemicals, saw higher traffic volumes in October. The sharp increase in grain carloadings is a welcome change and points to the cooperative relationship railroads have established with their partners in the agricultural community.”

AAR today also reported that U.S. Class I railroads originated 93,312 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter of 2013 (3Q), up 44.3 percent over the 64,658 carloads originated in 3Q 2012, but down 14.1 percent from the 108,605 carloads originated in the second quarter of 2013.

AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 2, 2013. U.S. railroads originated 292,398 carloads last week, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 264,264 units, up 17.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic last week was 556,662 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Rail traffic in the comparable week of 2012 was affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including nonmetallic minerals and products, up 18.6 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 15.9 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 12.6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic compared with the same week last year included farm and food products, excluding grain, down 3.3 percent; and coal, down 1.2 percent.

For the first 44 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,384,147 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year, and 10,865,365 intermodal units, up 4.0 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2013 was 23,249,512 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent from last year.

Canadian railroads reported 83,000 carloads for the week, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,867 intermodal units, up 8.3 percent compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 44 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,471,365 carloads, up 2.1 percent, and 2,370,520 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent from the same period last year.

Mexican railroads reported 14,281 carloads for the week, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,928 intermodal units, down 15.0 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 44 weeks of 2013 is 669,971 carloads, up 6.8 percent from the same point last year, and 444,314 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,525,483 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,680,199 trailers and containers, up 3.9 percent compared with last year.

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