U.S. rail volumes improving

U.S. rail volumes improving

Railroads on Tuesday reported solid increases in cargo volumes through the present quarter as the U.S. economy continues its recovery.

Consumer products shipments helped lift carloadings by 5 percent so far in the fourth quarter at Union Pacific Corp., the largest U.S. rail carrier.

CSX, the largest Eastern operator, reported a 7 percent increase in carloads over year-ago levels so far in the three months that will end Dec. 31.

A boost in volumes at Norfolk Southern Corp. that began in October has continued into November, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said it is adding new business from broad categories of shippers. Only chemicals and automotive customers were showing weakness, the railroads told a New York investors conference, Reuters reported.

Moderating fuel prices and improved, more reliable operations are also helping rail results, Merrill Lynch said in a research report.