U.S. intermodal rail volume rose 3.2 percent year-over-year in 2012, marking the second most robust year since 2006, according to the Association of American Railroads.
The 374,918 intermodal units handled last year was 14,885 units, or 0.1 percent, less than the high hit in 2006. Carload traffic in 2012 fell 3.1 percent from the same period a year ago.
“Coal and grain typically account for around half of U.S. rail carloads, so when they’re down, chances are good that overall rail carloads are down too, as we saw in 2012,” AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said. “That said, a number of key rail carload categories showed solid improvement in 2012, including categories like autos and lumber that are most highly correlated with economic growth."
Intermodal traffic in December rose 1.7 percent year-over-year, while carload volume dropped 4.2 percent in the same period. The shipments of intermodal units in the last week of 2012 plunged 14 percent, and carload traffic plummeted 13.8 percent.