Rail carload traffic hits
lowest level since 1988
Jan 21, 2010 2:02 PM
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that 2009 saw total carload traffic on US railroads at its lowest levels since at least 1988, when the AAR’s data series began. AAR’s January Rail Time Indicators report includes both monthly numbers for December and 2009 annual totals for freight railroad traffic.
January’s report notes 2009 carload traffic was down 16.1% compared with 2008, and down 18.2% versus 2007.
For December, rail carloads were down 4.1% compared with December 2008 and down 17.6% versus December 2007, due mainly to declines in coal carloadings. However, had coal been excluded, rail carloads would have been 6.9% higher in December 2009 than in December 2008. While the report notes that traffic for every commodity category was down in 2009 compared with both 2008 and 2007, 12 of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw higher carloads in December 2009 than in December 2008.
US rail intermodal traffic, which covers the movement of truck trailers and shipping containers by rail, posted slightly better year-end numbers with traffic down 14.1% compared with 2008, and down 17.7% versus 2007. Last year saw the lowest intermodal traffic levels since 2002. US intermodal traffic was up 2.5% from December 2008, though down 11.5% from December 2007. Unusually heavy early-season snow in much of the heavily populated northeastern United States negatively impacted consumer-focused intermodal traffic in December 2009.
The Rail Time Indicators report is available at www.aar.org.
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