Major U.S. freight railroads hit their highest load levels of 2010 in intermodal as well as bulk carload shipments during the week ending July 31, the Association of American Railroads said.
The end-of-July gains followed months in carloadings of bulk materials and equipment held below their April peaks. Intermodal traffic had continued to grow after April, but slowed some during the past month.
The period in which rail traffic was down from its springtime peaks corresponded with a slowdown in overall economic growth. However, rail loadings have been on the rise again in the past few weeks.
The AAR said the 300,292 carloads that major carriers originated in the latest week were 4.7 percent higher than in the July 24 week. That July 31 level was also up 9.4 from the same week in 2009, though still 10.6 percent below the 2008 week before the worst of the recession set in.
A big reason is coal shipments, which have grown about 10,000 carloads a week over the past month as the nation’s heat wave has finally drawn down power plant fuel stockpiles enough for them to increase their replenishment rate. However, various industrial inputs and semi-finished goods cargoes have also been on the rise since mid-July after weeks of declines.
Major U.S-owned railroads originated 232,895 intermodal containers and trailers in the final seven days of July, up 1 percent from a week earlier but 20.2 percent stronger than at that point in 2009 and even up 0.9 percent from the 2008 week.
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