Intermodal traffic at major North American railroads continued to grow into mid-June, setting a new peak for the recovery and rising 5 percent from four weeks earlier.
The Association of American Railroads said intermodal volume for the seven Class I railroads in the U.S. and Canada, plus a few regional lines tracked by AAR, loaded 284,891 containers and trailers in the week ending June 19.
That is up from 281,064 a week earlier, and from 271,399 for the week ending May 22. Most of that volume came from U.S.-owned railroads, and the AAR said their 227,985 intermodal loadings were the most since November 2008 when the economy was in a sharp downward spiral following a collapse in the credit markets.
Bulk railcar loadings -- of coal, industrial commodities, grains, chemicals and some equipment or semi-finished factory goods – totaled 374,111 units for all the big North American carriers. That was down from 377,784 loads in the June 10 week and well below the 387,283 in the April 24 week when carloads peaked this year.
But while the U.S. industrial sector’s growth has slowed since April, intermodal industry officials say domestic demand remains so strong that capacity is tight. And ports say marine container traffic is also growing strongly with the first stirrings of a peak season for Asian imports of goods for U.S. retailers. The latest combined intermodal numbers are up nearly 8 percent just from April 24.
Both carload and intermodal are doing much better than last year, when rail freight was just starting to lift itself off the floor after falling hard through most of the spring. The latest weekly carload traffic is up 11.8 percent from the same week in 2009, and carloads are up 10.3 percent year to date. Intermodal in the latest week was 22.6 percent above the same point last year, and up 12.5 percent for the first 24 weeks of this year.
-- Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.