A rebound in U.S. rail freight volume pushed intermodal loads to their highest level of 2010 during the week ending Aug. 14.
The Association of American Railroads said major U.S. rail lines originated 233,767 intermodal container and trailer loads. Among them were the highest weekly number of container moves on record at 199,859 units.
That was the second time in three weeks that intermodal set new year-to-date peaks, after the major U.S. carriers picked up a then-2010 peak volume of 232,895 boxes in the July 31 week. In between, intermodal slowed mildly to 231,208 for the Aug. 7 period.
Truck trailers hauled on rail flatcars of major U.S. railroads have begun to slow slightly in recent weeks, from 34,896 loads originated for the seven days through July 31 to 34,641 a week later and 33,908 as of Aug. 14.
Until recently, intermodal trailer loadings had been rising, against a long-term trend of more shippers opting out of trailers for the more efficient, stackable containers. Industry sources had said some ocean cargoes at seaports were being transloaded into larger domestic trailers because comparable containers were too scarce.
Counting the large Canadian and Mexican railroads that report data to the AAR, total intermodal volume at major North American rail carriers reached 291,386 units in the Aug. 14 week, up from 287,679 a week earlier and 290,710 in the previous peak week of July 31.
Box volume on the continent's large railroads was up 20.4 percent last week from a year earlier, the AAR said. That includes a 21.8 percent year-over-year increase in container loadings, and a 10.7 percent jump in trailers.
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