Short Lines Haul Most Intermodal Loads of 2010

Short Lines Haul Most Intermodal Loads of 2010

North American short lines originated more intermodal loads in the week ending Sept. 11 than any other time this year despite the fact that the Labor Day holiday shortened the work week for small railroads.

The RMI RailConnect report, a snapshot of traffic levels from 342 of an estimated 550 short lines and regional railroads in the U.S. and Canada, said reporting carriers picked up 8,121 containers or trailers in the latest week. That’s up from 7,895 in the Sept. 4 week and the previous 2010 peak of 7,983 boxes in the March 13 week.

That is the latest in a series of recent reports showing momentum continuing for intermodal traffic, as it builds toward an autumn peak shipping season.

By The Numbers: U.S. Intermodal Shipments.

RMI also said its participating short lines originated 2,646 railcar loads of ores in the latest week, up from 2,590 the week before and the highest level since Aug. 7. Rail ore loadings are dominated by metallic ores needed by metal furnaces, for a range of products from automobile bodies, machinery parts, construction supports and household appliances.

Strength in ore demand, despite the normal holiday dip in traffic, is consistent with a growing factory sector as manufacturers gather raw material to fill orders for their goods.

Major rail lines reporting traffic to the Association of American Railroads had an expected decline in intermodal shipments from the prior week, while their ore loadings rose slightly, though both categories were up sharply from the same point last year. Their underlying traffic trends will become clearer with later September reports, after their reports get past the effects of the Sept. 6 holiday pause.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.