Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Domestic Rail Freight Traffic Steadily Climbing

Offering further evidence of a broad-based recovery in the shipping industry, the American Association of Railroads has reported that during the week ended May 15th national intermodal volume reached its highest level since 2008. Intermodal traffic volumes for the month of April also registered significant gains. April also marked the first month that all 19 commodities categories watched by AAR increased over the year-ago period since the association began collecting data in 1989.

For the May 15 week, intermodal traffic was reported at 218,206 trailers and containers, a 15.2 percent increase over the same week in 2009. Container volume for the May 15 week was up 16.8 percent while trailer volume was up 6.9 percent, both compared to the year-ago period.

For the month of April, US freight railroads saw a 15.8 percent rise in carloads compared with April 2009. US rail intermodal traffic, which covers the movement of truck trailers and shipping containers by rail, was up 14.3 percent in April 2010 compared with the same month last year, but down 6.9 percent from the same month in 2008.

Commodities showing notable monthly carload gains in April 2010 included primary metal products, up 90.5 percent compared with the year-ago period, and coal, up 7.1 percent compared with the same month last year. According to AAR records, this is the first monthly gain in coal traffic since December of 2008.

"Last month’s favorable results come with a footnote that April 2009 was a particularly bad month for rail traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray.

"That said, rail traffic last month suggests the early phase of a broad based recovery is underway. Although the recovery may not be happening as quickly as we’d like, conditions are better today than they were even a few months ago."