WASHINGTON -- An unusual surge in intermodal containers offset falling grain volume to boost overall rail traffic by 0.8 percent in the week ending Oct. 4, according to the Association of American Railroads.
The AAR estimated total volume at 35.7 billion ton-miles, up from 35.4 billion in the comparable week last year.
Intermodal volume totaled 244,828 trailers or containers, up 0.8 percent from a year earlier. Trailer volume was off 3.5 percent while container traffic was up 2 percent, a major turnaround from its 3.2 percent decline for the year to date.
Carload freight in the week totaled 336,457 cars, off 0.1 percent from last year. A 7.7 percent increase in coal carloads and a 45.4 percent increase in the "all other" category kept units from sinking further. But grain was off 7.1 percent instead of gaining as it has done for most of the year.
Lumber and wood products declined 12.6 percent. Pulp, paper and allied products fell 11.9 percent. Motor vehicles and equipment had a particularly bad week, declining 27.8 percent and deepening a trend that has automobile volume down 18.6 percent for the year to date.
-- Thomas Gallagher, Traffic World