AAR reports annual U.S. carload and intermodal volume gains in March

Date: Monday, April 9, 2018
Source: Logistics Management

Both United States rail carload and intermodal volumes saw annual gains in March, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Rail carloads increased 3.6%, or 36,157 carloads, to 1,050,653 on an annual basis in March. And ten of the 20 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR saw gains, including: coal, up 24,867 carloads or 7.9%; chemicals, up 7,492 carloads or 5.9%; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 7,124 carloads or 8%. And commodities with annual declines in March included: nonmetallic minerals, down 3,563 carloads or 19.5%; motor vehicles & parts, down 2,257 carloads or 3.2%; and coke, down 1,423 carloads or 8.1%.

When excluding coal, AAR said carloads were up 1.6% and when excluding coal and grain, it said carloads were up 1.8%.

Intermodal containers and trailers headed up 5%, or 102,308 units, in March compared to the same period a year ago at 2,132,892.

“Railroads are a derived-demand industry,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “Their level of business depends to a large degree on what’s happening elsewhere in the economy. There’s always some economic uncertainty — today that involves, among other things, trade relations, commodity prices, and what the Fed will do about interest rates — but economic signals today are mostly positive. Rail traffic in March was largely positive too, at least in terms of traffic segments that are most sensitive to what’s going on in the economy.”

On a year-to-date basis through March, AAR said U.S. rail carloads are down 0.3%, or 9,027 carloads, annually at 3,296,199, and intermodal units are up 5.5%, or 181,304 units, at 3,496,381.

For the week ending March 31, U.S. carloads are up 2.8% at 265,470, and intermodal units are also up 2.8% at 269,281. 

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