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Thursday, September 19, 2013

AAR: Rail Traffic increased in August

by Calculated Risk on 9/19/2013 08:59:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads (AAR): AAR Reports Increased Intermodal, Carload Rail Traffic for August

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) ... reported increased total U.S. rail traffic for the month of August 2013, with intermodal setting a new record and carload volume increasing overall compared with August 2012.

Intermodal traffic in August 2013 totaled 1,031,179 containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent (43,398 units) compared with August 2012. The weekly average of 257,795 units in August 2013 was the highest weekly average for any month in history. Carloads originated in August totaled 1,178,619, up 0.5 percent or 5,285 carloads compared with the same month last year.
“In terms of average weekly volumes, August was the best intermodal month in history for both U.S. and Canadian railroads,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Because the fall is typically the peak season for intermodal traffic, it wouldn’t be surprising to see new records set in September and October. Intermodal’s strength is a testament to the massive private investments railroads have made in their intermodal operations and the tremendous effort they’ve put forth in improving the reliability, responsiveness, and cost effectiveness of their intermodal service.”
emphasis added
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA).  Green is 2013.
U.S. railroads averaged 294,655 carloads per week in August 2013, up 0.5% over August 2012 and the highest weekly average for any month since November 2011. August is just the second month in 2013 in which year-over-year total carloads were higher than in 2012. For the past seven months, carloads have deviated only very slightly from the same periods in 2012 ...

The commodity category with the largest year-over-year increase in August 2013 was petroleum and petroleum products, with carloads up 18.5% (8,148 carloads) over August 2012 ...  [C]oal and grain led the way for carload declines in August 2013, just as they have for many months now. Coal carloads were down 9,915 (2.0%) in August 2013 compared with August 2012, while grain carloads were down 6,570 (9.0%).
Note that lumber was up only up 2.7% from a year ago.

Rail TrafficGraphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.

The second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):

Intermodal traffic is on track for a record year in 2013.
Intermodal volume on U.S. railroads averaged 257,795 containers and trailers per week in August 2013, easily the highest weekly average for any month in history. The old record was 252,347 units per week, set in June of this year; before that, the record was 251,703 in October 2006. The four weeks of August 2013 were the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh highest volume intermodal weeks in history for U.S. railroads. Moreover, because the fall is typically the peak season for intermodal traffic, it wouldn’t be surprising to see new records set in September and/or October. August 2013 was the 45th-straight year-over-year monthly increase for U.S. rail intermodal traffic.