September intermodal rail traffic surges
September rail carloads on U.S. railroads were up 7.7 percent from the same 2009 period, but still down 7.5 percent compared with September 2008, the Association of American Railroads said Monday.
The weekly average of 297,502 carloads last month was the highest since October 2008, according to AAR's October Rail Time Indicators Report.
Intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads in September was up 17.3 percent compared with the same month in 2009, and up 0.2 percent compared with September 2008. September is traditionally one of the highest-volume months of the year for intermodal as retailers begin to stock up for the holidays.
Seasonally adjusted AAR data for September showed an increase in carloads from the previous month, up 1.9 percent from August, while intermodal traffic declined 0.1 percent.
“September was a steady month for rail traffic with new weekly records set in both carloads and intermodal,” said John T. Gray, AAR senior vice president. 'That said, intermodal traffic gains can be attributed to the upcoming holiday season and the number of railcars coming out of storage are not as significant as during the first few months of the year; all of which is evidence of a slow measured economic recovery.”
On an unadjusted basis, September also saw carload gains in 16 of the 19 commodity groups tracked by AAR. In terms of volume change, four categories in particular made significant gains from the same period last year:
' Coal up 30,111 carloads.
' Metallic ores, 16,978 carloads.
' Grain, 14,123 carloads.
' Crushed stone, sand, and gravel up 11,399 carloads.
Railroads continue to take railcars out of storage. Railroads brought 17,638 rail cars out of storage in September, the largest number since April. However, 331,074 freight cars, roughly 21.6 percent of the American railcar fleet, remain shelved.