RFX Blog

Rail Traffic in North America in on the Up and Up

May 29th, 2013

Intermodal Transportation

According to the Association of American Railroads, as of May 4th of this year, the amount of intermodal and carload traffic in North America continues to increase. This might be a good indicator of next year’s projections as well with the world economy having improved from last year.

Rail Volumes in North America May, 2012-2013

The combined carload numbers in North America rose steadily to 378,115, an increase of 2%, from the first week in May of 2012. This statistic includes all three partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada, the United States and Mexico. There was also a weekly increase of 1.4% in the volume of rail cars. Unfortunately, the complete carload volume for the U.S. was 6,647,821, which is 0.8% less than the previous year. This decrease could be due to the still lingering recession, and if so it will hopefully improve over the next year with signs that the recession is receding.

Intermodal Volume

The intermodal levels in North America showed a 0.7% decrease when looking at week-to-week figured but increased 2.1% when looking at the same week from last year. The final number was well over 300,000 containers and trailers being transported by rail. The complete volume of intermodal traffic for the beginning of 2013 was almost 5,500,000 units which is 4.1% higher than the same time last year.

U.S. Traffic

Rail traffic in the United States was consistent with the numbers for North America for the week of May 4, 2013. The American carload numbers saw an increase of almost 3% from 2012 to a total of almost 300,000 carloads, which ended an almost three week decline. Al though the previous week also showed a 3% increase. Intermodal traffic increased approximately 3% as well in the U.S. from 2012 but it showed a decrease of 0.8% from the previous week, leaving the overall number of containers and trailers at 247,678.

Canadian Traffic

The overall carload numbers dropped 2.1% when considering weekly values and dropped a total of 1.4% to 79,903, carloads from the previous year. This decline was the first for Canada since February when considering year over year numbers. Intermodal traffic in Canada was up 1% from the same week last year and 1.6% from this same week last year with a total of 55,100 containers and trailers.

Mexican Traffic

Carload traffic numbers increased approximately 5% year to year with 14,296 carloads total. While that figure was up, the numbers are actually down 8% from the same week last year. The volume of intermodal traffic decreased roughly 10%, making this the third week of declines when looking at the year to year figures. The numbers fell to less than 8,000 units as well, which is a decrease of 12% from the previous week.

Overall Figures

As reported by the AAR, out of the 10 carload commodity groupings, 6 of these groupings reported definite increases in traffic as compared to the same week last year. This was led via petroleum and petroleum based products and marked a significant 52% increase overall. Unfortunately, there were commodities that showed decreases as well, most significantly grain, with had close to a 6% drop in traffic.

The overall gains that were reported seem to be a step in the right direction after the past few turbulent years. The future looks bright with slow and steady gains in the global economy.

Posted on May 29th, 2013 in Intermodal Logistics