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2013 Saw Record Intermodal Growth, Bulk Carloads Down

Volume 2, Issue 4
February 28th, 2014
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U.S. rail traffic for 2013 saw record intermodal growth along with a slight full-year decrease in carloadings, the Association of American Railroads reported.

U.S. rail intermodal volume totaled a record 12.8 million containers and trailers in 2013, up 4.6% or 564,276 units, over 2012. Carloads totaled 14.6 million in 2013, down 0.5% or 76,784 carloads, from 2012.

CHOO-CHOO-2Intermodal volume in 2013 was the highest on record, surpassing even the record high totals of 2006 by 549,471 units, the association noted.

In 2013, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked annually by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with 2012.

The categories with sizable gains were: petroleum and petroleum products, up 167,868 carloads, or 31.1%; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 81,023 carloads (8.3%); motor vehicles and parts, up 41,166 carloads (5.1%), and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 14,472 carloads (9.1%).

AAR said commodities that experienced the largest carload declines in 2013 compared with 2012 were: coal, down 256,751 carloads, or 4.3%; grain, down 81,309 carloads (-8%), and metallic ores, down 37,068 carloads (-9.9%).

However, excluding coal and grain, those U.S. rail carloads which are reflective of the economy were up 261,276 carloads, or 3.4%, in 2013 over 2012, AAR said.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said, “2013 ended the way it began — strong intermodal, weak coal, and mixed performance for other commodities, resulting in a year for rail traffic that could have been much better but also could have been much worse.”

He added. “A variety of indicators seem to be saying that the economy is slowly strengthening; a trend we expect to continue in 2014.”

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