U.S. rail freight slowed by weather, weak housing and motor sectors
Blaming severe weather and weakness in the housing and automotive sectors, the Association of American Railroads said U.S. rail carload traffic fell 6.8 percent in the first five weeks of 2007.
Carload traffic in January was down in 17 of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR to 1.55 million carloads. Motor vehicles and equipment were down 21.8 percent to 82,309 carloads; crushed stone, sand, and gravel dropped 18.7 percent to 86,557 carloads; and coal was down 2.3 percent to 682,294 carloads.
U.S. rail intermodal traffic in the five weeks fell 1.6 percent to 1.1 million units with the trailer component dropping 12.7 percent to 239,979 units. Containers were up 1.9 percent to 865,993 units.
The AAR estimated the total volume along U.S. railroads in January at 157.6 billion ton-miles, down 5.6 percent from the same period last year.
'January rail traffic was lower than we would have liked to see, but
railroading this month has been a tremendous challenge,' said Craig F. Rockey, AAR vice president. 'Railroads are hopeful that solid economic growth continues, and they are confident that the tens of billions of (dollars of) infrastructure and equipment investments they've made in recent years will continue to yield dependable, cost-effective service for their customers.'
Canadian rail carload traffic (which includes both the Canadian and U.S. operations of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific) decreased 3.9 percent in January to 369,059 carloads, while the country’s intermodal traffic was down 0.5 percent to 207,948 trailers and containers.