The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for November 2013 over November 2012. Intermodal traffic in November totaled 1,007,549 containers and trailers, up 7.8 percent (73,004 units) compared with November 2012. The weekly average of 251,887 intermodal containers and trailers per week in November 2013 was the highest weekly average for any November in history. Carloads originated in November 2013 totaled 1,145,353, up 1.3 percent (14,931 carloads) compared with the same month last year.Click on graph for larger image.
Excluding coal, U.S. carloads were up 5.3 percent, or 34,988 carloads, in November 2013 compared with November 2012. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were up 3.3 percent, or 19,303 carloads, in November.
“U.S. rail traffic in November 2013 saw a big decline in coal carloads that was more than offset by gains in carloads of grain and petroleum products,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Carload traffic continues to be consistent with an economy that’s growing at a moderate pace. Meanwhile, rail intermodal volume was extremely strong in November, demonstrating the tremendous value that intermodal has become for rail customers.”
This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA). Green is 2013.
U.S. rail carloads were up 1.3% (14,931 carloads) in November 2013 over November 2012, totaling 1,145,353 carloads for the month. That’s the fourth consecutive year-over-year monthly increase, the first time that’s happened in two years. The weekly average in November 2013 was 286,338 carloads ...
Among the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month, grain had by far the biggest carload gain in November, with grain carloads up 15,685 (20.6%) over the same month last year. ... Carloads of petroleum and petroleum products averaged 14,532 per week in November 2013, up 20.0% over November 2012.
Graphs 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.
U.S. railroads originated an average of 251,887 intermodal containers and trailers per week in November 2013, easily the highest weekly average for any November in history and up 7.8% (73,004 intermodal units) over November 2012. That’s the biggest year-over-year percentage change in nine months.Rail traffic and the economy usually grow together, so this is a good sign for the overall economy.
To date, the peak full year for U.S. rail intermodal volume is 2006, when originations totaled 12.3 million containers and trailers. In order for 2013 not to set an annual record, intermodal volume in December 2013 would have to average no more than approximately 102,000 units per week. So far in 2013, the weekly average has been more than 247,000 units, so it’s a safe bet that next month in this space we’ll be reporting that 2013 was a record year for intermodal.