Intermodal volume for major U.S. railroads soared 22.9 percent year-over-year in the week ending Dec. 24, a likely signal that businesses were moving to replenish their lean inventories heading into the New Year.
The gain over the 51st week of 2010 reported by the Association of American Railroads included a 24.7 percent year-over-year expansion in intermodal containers, the loads largely made up of containerized import and export goods.
The overall intermodal business slowed down somewhat, slipping 6.6 percent from the figures the AAR reported the week before. But that is in line with normal seasonal trends and the gain over the same week a year ago suggests rail customers are stocking up with more confidence heading into 2012.
Figures on carload traffic also signal some confidence in the industrial economy.
Carload traffic for the Class I railroads grew 11.9 percent year-over-year in the week ending Christmas Eve, the second straight double-digit increase. Although the carload traffic also fell around 6 p.m. from the previous week, several large industrial commodities slipped only slightly from week to week in the traditionally slow period.