The largest U.S. railroads pushed their volume up another notch in the week ending March 13, as steady factory activity combined with demand for construction materials.
The U.S.-owned Class I carriers and the few large regional lines that report traffic to the Association of American Railroads originated 287,837 carloads of bulk materials and factory goods last week, up moderately from 285,160 a week earlier.
Their intermodal loadings slipped to 203,626 containers and trailers from 212,296 in the March 6 week, but the latest level was another double-digit increase over the same point in 2009.
New pickups of all rail-hauled freight measured an estimated 31.3 billion ton-miles for the major U.S. carriers, up from 31.1 billion a week earlier and 4.3 percent ahead of the year-ago period.
Increases from the preceding week included new loadings of scrap materials, which are mostly metals used as a cheap recycling input for smelters to blend with higher-priced ore for metal fabrication. Carloadings of metals and products also rose.
One large gainer was road and site construction materials in a category of sand, gravel and crushed stone. Other construction cargoes also rose, including lumber and wood products, and a grouping of stone, clay and glass products.
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